Now I say (λέγω δέ). A form of expression usual with the apostle when introducing a new statement designed either to explain or elucidate something before said (of. Galatians 3:17; Galatians 5:16; Romans 15:8, according to the Received Text; 1 Corinthians 1:12. So τοῦτο δέ φημι, 1 Corinthians 7:29; 1 Corinthians 15:50). It is intended apparently to quicken attention: "Now I wish to say this." In the present case the apostle designs to throw further light upon the position taken in Galatians 3:24, that God's people, while under the Law, were under a bondage from which they have now been emancipated. Compare the somewhat similar process of illustration adopted in Romans 7:2-45. In both passages it is not a logical demonstration that is put forward, but an illustratively analogous case in human experience. A metaphor, though not strictly an argument, yet frequently helps the reader to an intuitive perception of the justness of the position laid down. That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all (ἐφ ὅσον χρόνονὁ κληρονόμος νήπιός ἐστιν οὐδὲν διαφέερει δόλου κύριος πάντων ὤν); so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant, though he is lord of all. The article before κληρονόμος, heir, is the class article, as before μεσίτης, mediator (Galatians 3:20)—"an heir." In the word νήπιος the apostle evidently has in view one who as yet is in his nonage—as in English law phrase, "an infant." In Roman law language, infans is a child under seven, the period of minority reaching to twenty-five. In Attic Greek, the correlate to one registered amongst "men" was a παῖς. It does not appear that the apostle means to use a technical legal expression. He contrasts νήπιος with ἀνὴρ in 1 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:13, Ephesians 4:14. "Differeth nothing from a bond-servant;" i.e. is nothing better than a bond-servant, as Matthew 6:26; Matthew 10:31; Matthew 12:12. The verb διαφέρειν seems used only in the sense of your differing from another to your advantage, so that τὰ διαφέροντα are things that are more excellent. "Lord," "proprietor;" the title to the property inheres in him, though he is not yet fit to handle it.
But is under tutors and governors (ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ ἐπιτρόπους ἐστὶ καὶ οἰκονόμους) but is under guardians and stewards. Ἐπίτροπος is, in Greek, the proper designation of a minor's guardian; as, for example, is shown by Demosthenes's speeches against Aphobus, who had been his ἐπίτροπος. These speeches also show that the ἐπίτροπος was entrusted with the handling of the property of his ward. Yet, as οἰκονόμος more especially denotes one entrusted with the management of property, it should seem that St. Paul uses the former term with more especial reference to the guardian's control over the person of his ward. The ward has to do what the ἐπίτροπος, guardian, thinks proper, with no power of ordering his actions according to his own will; while, on the other hand, the youth is not able to appropriate or apply any of his property further than as the "steward" thinks right; between the two he is bound hand and foot to other people's control. The plural number of the two nouns indicates the rough and general way in which the apostle means to sketch the case; speaking in a general way, one may describe a minor as subject to "guardians and stewards." Until the time appointed of the father (ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός). The noun προθεσμία, properly an adjective, ὥρα or ἡμέρα being understood, m used very commonly to denote, either a determined period during which a thing is to be done or forborne, which is its most ordinary sense (see Reiske's 'Lexicon to Demosthenes'); or the further limit of such a period, whence Symmachus uses it to render the Hebrew word for "end" in Job 28:3; or, lastly, a specified time at which a certain thing was to take place, as, for example, Josephus, 'Ant.,' Job 7:4, Job 7:7, "When the (προθεσμία) day appointed for the payment came." This last seems to be the meaning of the word here, though it admits of being taken in the second sense, as describing the limit of the child's period of nonage. The somewhat loosely constructed genitive, τοῦ πατρός, "of the father," may be compared either with the διδακτοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, "taught of God" (John 6:45), or, in a somewhat different application, "the chastening and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). In reference to the whole case as stated by the apostle, it has been asked—Is the father to be conceived of as dead, or as only gone out of the country, or how? It is sufficient to reply that "the point of the comparison"—to use Bishop Lightfoot's words—"lies, not in the circum stances of the father, but of the son;" and, further, that to supplement the description which the apostle gives by additional particulars not relevant for the purpose of the comparison would only tend to cloud our view of its actual import. In fact, any image taken from earthly things to illustrate things spiritual will inevitably, if completely filled out, be found to be in some respects halting. Another inquiry has engaged the attention of commentators, as to how far the particular circumstance, that the period of nonage is made dependent upon the father's appoint meat, can be shown to agree with actual usage as it then obtained. It would seem that no positive proof has hitherto been alleged that such an hypothesis was in strict conformity with either Greek or Roman or Hebrew law. And hence some have had recourse to the precarious and far-fetched supposition that St. Paul founds his thesis on Galatian usage, arguing that such would have been in accordance with that purely arbitrary control which, according to Caesar ('Bell. Gall.,' Job 6:19), a paterfamilias exercised over wife and children among the kindred tribes in Gaul. The scruple, how ever, now referred to arises from supposing that we know more about the facts than we really do know. So far as has been shown, we cannot tell what was really the precise rule of procedure which, in the case described by the apostle, prevailed either in Judaea, or in Tarsus, or in Galatia; nor again from what region of actual experience St. Paul drew his illustration. We, therefore, have no possible right to say that the case which he supposes was not fairly supposable. On the contrary, when we reflect how open the apostle's mind was for taking note of facts about him, and how wide and varied his survey, we may safely rest assured that his supposed case was in reality framed in perfect accordance to the civil usage, to which the Galatians would understand him to refer. At the same time, it must be conceded that, amongst different modes of arranging a minor's case which actual usage permitted or may be imagined to have permitted, the apostle selected just that particular mode which would best suit his present immediate purpose.
Even so we (οὕτω καὶ ἡμεῖς); so we also. This "we" represents the same persons as before in Galatians 3:13, Galatians 3:24, Galatians 3:25 (see notes), namely, the people of God; a society preserving a continuous identity through successive stages of development, till now appearing as the Church of Christ. The plural pronoun recites, not individuals, but the community viewed as a whole, having the now subsisting "us" as its present representatives. Individually, Christians in general now, and many of those who then when the apostle wrote belonged to the Church, never were in the state of nonage or bondage here referred to. It is, however, notwithstanding this, quite supposable that St. Paul's account of the history of the whole society is in some degree tinted by the recollection of his own personal experiences. When we were children (ὅτε ἧμεν νήπιοι); that is, when we were in our nonage. The phrase is not meant to point to a state of immaturity in personal development, but simply to the period of our being withheld from the full possession of our inheritance. This is all that the course of thought now pursued requires; and we only create for ourselves superfluous embarrassment by carrying further the parallel between the figuring persons and the figured. The spiritual illumination enjoyed by the Christian Church, compared with that of the pre-Christian society, presents as great a contrast as that of a man's knowledge compared with a child's; but that is not the point here. Were in bondage under the elements (or, rudiments) of the world (ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἦμεν δεδουλωμένοι); were held in bond. age under the rudiments of the world; or, were under the rudiments of the world brought into bond-service. This latter way of construing, separating ἦμεν from the participle δεδουλωμένοι to connect it with the words which precede, is recommended by the parallel, which the words, "were under the rudiments of the world," then present to the words," is under guardians and stewards," in Galatians 3:2; while the participle "brought into bond-service" reproduces the notion expressed by the words, "is no better than a bond-servant," of Galatians 3:1. The participle "brought into bond-service," then, stands apart, in the same way as the participle "shut up "does in Galatians 3:23. This, however, is only a question of style; the substantial elements of thought remain the same in either way of construing. The Greek word στοιχεῖα calls for a few remarks, founded upon the illustration of its use given by Schneider in his 'Greek Lexicon.' From the primary sense of "stakes placed in a row," for example, to fasten nets upon, the term was applied to the letters of the alphabet as placed in rows, and thence to the primary constituents of speech; then to the primary constituents of all objects in nature, as, for example, the four "elements" (see 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12 ); and to the "rudiments" or first "elements" of any branch of knowledge. It is in this last sense that it occurs in Hebrews 5:12, "What are the (στοιχεῖα) rudiments (of the beginning, or) of the first principles of the oracles of God" (on which compare the passage from Galen quoted by Alford at the place). This must be the meaning of the word here; it recites the rudimental instruction of children, as if the apostle had said "under the A, B, C, of the world." This is evidently intended to describe the ceremonial Law; for in Hebrews 5:5 the phrase, "those under the Law," recites the same persons as are here described as "under the rudiments of the world;" as again the "weak and beggarly rudiments," in Hebrews 5:9, are surely the same sort of" rudiments'' as are illustrated in Hebrews 5:10 by the words, "Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years." Since the Law under which the people of God were placed was God's own ordinance, we must infer that, when it is here designated as "the A, B, C, of the world," the genitive can neither denote the origin of these rudiments nor yet any qualification of moral pravity, but only the qualification of imperfection and inferiority; that is, it denotes the ceremonial institution s of the Law as appertaining to this earthly material sphere of existence, as contrasted with a higher spiritual sphere. Thus "the A, B, C, of the world" is an expression as nearly as possible identical with that of "carnal ordinances" (literally, ordinances of the flesh), used to describe the external ceremonialism of the Law in Hebrews 9:10; which phrase, like the one before us, is used with a full recognition, in the word "ordinances'' (δικαιώματα), of the Law as of Divine appointment, while the genitive "of the flesh" marks its comparative imperfection. They were, as Conybeare paraphrases, "their childhood's elementary lessons of outward things." This designation of Levitical ceremonies as being an "A, B, C," or "rudiments, of the world," appears to have become a set phrase with the apostle, who uses it again twice in the Colossians (Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:20), where he appears, if we may judge from the context, to have in view a (perhaps mongrel) form of Jewish ceremonialism which, with circumcision (mentioned in verse 11), conjoined other "ordinances" (δόγματα) mentioned in verses 14, 20, relating to meats and drinks and observance of times, illustrated in verses 16, 21. This, he tells the Colossians, might have been all very well if they were still "living in the world" (verse 20); but now they were risen with Christ!—with Christ, who had taken that "bond" (χειρόγραφον, verse 14) out of the way; and therefore were called to care for higher things than such merely earthly ones as these. Some suppose that the apostle has reference to the religious ceremonialisms of the idolatrous Gentiles, as well as those of the Mosaic Law. These former ceremonialisms belonged, indeed, to "the world," beth in the sense above pointed out and as tinged with the moral pravity characterizing the "present evil world' in general. But these cannot be here intended, forasmuch as it was not to such that God's people were by his ordinance subjected. The other rendering of στοιχεῖα—"elements"—which the Authorized Version puts into the text, but the Revised Version into the margin, was probably selected in deference to the view of most of the Fathers, who, as Meyer observes, took the Greek word in its physical sense: Augustine referring it to the heathen worship of the heavenly bodies and the other cults of nature; Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Ambrose to the new moons and sabbaths of the Jews, viewed as determined by the motions of the sun and moon; Jerome, however, interpreting it rudimenta discipliner. On the other hand, in Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:20, both of our Versions have "rudiments" in the text and "elements" in the margin; in 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12," elements" only. "Brought into bend-service" (δεδουλωμένοι), namely, by the act of the supreme Father imposing upon us the yoke of his Law.
But when the fulness of the time was come (ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου); but when the completion of the term (Greek, time) came. "The completion of the term" is the notion answering to "the time appointed of the father" in Galatians 4:2. The "time" (χρόνος) here most probably corresponds to the period terminated by the προθεσμία: that is, it is the interval which God ordained should first elapse. So Acts 7:23, Ὡς δὲ ἐπληροῦτο αὐτῷ τεσσαρακονταετὴνς χρόνος, "When he was well-nigh forty years old;" literally," When there was being completed to him a time of forty years" (comp. also Acts 7:30; Acts 24:27; Luke 21:24; Luke 1:57). The substantive (πλήρωμα) "completion" occurs in the same sense in Ephesians 1:10, "Dispensation of the completion of the times." The apostle might apparently have written ὡς δὲ ἐπληρώθη ὁ χρόνος, "But when the term was completed;" but he prefers to express it in this particular form, as colouring the idea with a certain pathos of solemn joy at the arrival of a time so long expected, so fraught with blessing (compare the use of the verb "came" in Galatians 3:25). Why the supreme Disposer, the Father of his people, chose that particular era in the history of the human race for his children's passing into their majority is a deeply interesting subject of inquiry. Much has been said, as for example by Neander and Guerieke in their Histories of the Church, and by Schaff in his History of the Apostolic Church, on the preparedness of the world at large at just that juncture for the reception of the gospel. It may, however, be questioned whether the apostle had this in his mind in the reference here made to the Divine prothesmia. So far as appears, his view was fastened upon the history of the development of God's own people, which up to this time had been under the pedagogic custody of the Mosaic Law. Indeed, in just this context he does not even advert, as he may be supposed to have done in Galatians 3:24, to the effect produced by the Law in preparing God's own people for the gospel, but speaks only of the negative aspect of the legal economy; that is, of those features of "bondage," "powerlessness," and "poverty" which marked it as a state of oppression and helplessness. The training, probably implied in the reference to its "rudiments," stands back for the present out of view; the only notion which is actually brought prominently forward being the comparatively degraded condition in which the child-proprietor was for that while detained. God sent forth his Son (ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὑτοῦ). The terms here used require to be very closely considered: they arc fraught with the very essence of the gospel. The compound verb ἐξαποστέλλω occurs in nine other places of the New Testament, all of them in St. Luke's Gospel and the Acts. In six of these (Luke 1:53; Luke 20:10, Luke 20:11; Acts 9:30; Acts 17:14; Acts 22:21) the ἐξ is well represented in our English Bible by "away." In the remaining three (Acts 7:12; Acts 11:22; Acts 12:11)—"(Jacob) sent forth our fathers first;" "They sent forth Barnabas as far as to Antioch;" "God hath sent forth his angel")—the preposition represented by "forth" expresses with more or less distinctness the idea that the person sent belonged intimately to the place or the society of the person who sent him. In no one passage is it without its appreciable value. The verb ἀποστέλλω, without this second prepositional adjunct of ἐξ, is used, for example, in John 17:18, both of the Father sending the Son and of Christ sending his apostles" into the world," but without putting forward this indication of previous intimate connection. So the verb πέμπω is used in like manner of God sending his Son in Romans 8:3, and of the mission of the Holy Spirit in John 14:26. It was, no doubt, optional with the writer or speaker whether he would employ a verb denoting this particular shade of meaning present in the ἐξ or not; but we are not, therefore, at liberty to infer that, when he chooses to employ a verb which does denote it, he uses it without a distinct consciousness of its specific force. In the clause before us, therefore, as also in John 14:6, the writer must be assumed to have had in his mind at least the thought of heaven as the sphere of existence from which the Son and the Spirit were sent, as in Acts 12:11 above cited, if not of some yet closer association with the Sender. The reference to a previously subsisting intimacy of being between the Sender and the Sent, which we trace here in the preposition ἐξ of the compound verb, is in Romans 8:3, where the verb employed is πέμψας, indicated in the emphatic reference implied in the pronoun ἑαυτοῦ, "sending his own Son." In endeavouring next to determine the import of the expression," his Son," as here introduced, we are met by the surmise that the apostle may have written it proleptically, or by anticipation; that is, as describing, not what Christ was before he was sent forth, but the glory and acceptableness with the Almighty which marked him as the Messiah after his appearing in the world; for when, for example, in another place the apostle writes," Christ Jesus came into the world to rove sinners," he must be understood as expressing himself proleptically, designating the person who came into the world by the name and office which he bore as among men, and not as he was before he came. A proleptic designation is therefore conceivable. But this interpretation of the apostle's meaning is resisted by the tendency of the context in the kindred passage in Romans 8:3, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin;" for those added words betoken very strongly that Christ was viewed by the apostle as having been God's Son before he appeared in the flesh. And such is the impression which a reader not preoccupied with other ideas would naturally receive also here. The conviction that this is what the apostle really intended is corroborated by references which he elsewhere makes to Christ's pro-incarnate existence and work; as, for example, in Philippians 2:5, Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:16; the latter of which passages, by describing "the Son of God's love" as "the Firstborn of every creature, because by him all things were created" (see Alford, and the 'Speaker's Commentary' on the passage), betokens that St. Paul regarded him as having been even then the "Son of God;" and this, too, in the sense of derivation from "the substance of the Father, … begotten" (as the Nicene Creed recites) "of his Father before all worlds." We may, therefore, reason, ably believe that the Apostle Paul, whose views alone are now under consideration, recognized these two senses of the term, namely, the theological and the Christologieal, as inseparably blending into one when thus applied to the Lord Jesus; for we must allow that it appears alien to his manner of sentiment and of representation to suppose that he ever uses it in the purely theological sense only. In the view of the apostle Christ was the "Son of God," not only when appointed to be the Messiah, but also before he was "made to be of a woman." Indeed, it should seem that this conception of his person is just that which forms the basis for the subsequent statement that the object of his coming into the world was to procure the adoption of sons for us. Made of a woman (γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός); made to be of a woman. This, indeed, was probably the sense intended by King James's translators, when they followed Wicklife and the Geneva Bible in rendering "made of a woman;" whilst Tyndale and Cranmer, followed by the Revisers of 1881, give "born of a woman." Just the same divergency of renderings appears in the same English translations in Romans 1:3, "made of the seed of David (γενομένον ἐκ σπέρματος Δαβίδ)," except that Tyndale has "begotten" instead of "born." The difference in sense is appreciable and important: "made" implies a previous state of existence, which "born" does not. So far as the present writer can find, wherever in the New Testament the Authorized Version has "born," we have in the Greek either τεχθῆναι or γεννηθῆναι: γενέσθαι never having this sense at all. As in Galatians 3:13 (γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα), "Being made a curse for us," and in John 1:14 (ὁ Λόγος σάρξ ἐγένετο), "The Word was made flesh;" so here God's Son is described as "made to be of a woman," the phrase, "of a woman," being nearly identical in import with the word "flesh" in St. John, distinctly implying the fact of the Incarnation. The preposition "of" (ἐκ) denotes derivation of being, as when it is found after the verb "to be" in John 8:47, "He that is of God;" "Ye are not of God," pointing back to the claim which (John 8:41) the Jews had made that they had God for their Father. The construction of γίγνομαι, to come to be, with a preposition occurs frequently, as in Luke 22:44; Acts 22:17; Romans 16:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. There can be no doubt that γενόμενον must be taken in the next clause with the same meaning as here. Made under the Law (γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον); that is, made to be under the Law. The "Law" here, as in the clause immediately after "those under the Law," indicates, not Law in general, but that particular law of tutorship and of domination over one as yet in the depressed condition of a minor, which the apostle has just before spoken of; that is, a law of ceremonies and of external cult. The article is wanting in the Greek, as in Romans 2:12, Romans 2:23; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:11, etc. We cannot be unconscious of a tone of pathos in the apostle's language, thus declaring that he who had before been no less august a being than God's Son, should in conformity with his Father's will have stooped to derive being "from a woman," as well as to become subject to such a Law of servitude as that of Moses was. In the second chapter of the Philip-plans we have a similar account of the Incarnation, in which, with similar pathos, the apostle remarks that he took upon him the form of a "bond-servant" (δοῦλος), being made to be in the like condition to that of men (ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γένομενος); but in that passage the line of thought does not lead to a definite reference of his being made subject to the ceremonial Law. The apostle probably thinks of Christ as being made subject to the Law by his being circumcised; a child of Israelite parents, so long as he was uncircumcised, was repudiated by the Law as one not in the covenant. With reference to the preceding clause," made of a woman," we are naturally led to inquire why this particular was specified. It does not appear to be essential to his argument, as the next clause certainly is. Probably it was added as marking one of the successive steps down which the Son of God descended to that subjection ("servitude," Galatians 3:3) to the ceremonial Law which the apostle is most particularly concerned with. As in Philippians 2:1-50. he is exhibited, first as emptying himself; next, as taking upon him the form of a bond-servant by being made man; and then at length as brought to "the death of the cross;" so here, more briefly, he appears as "sent forth" from the bosom of the Father; next, as made "the son of a woman;" then as brought under the Law, to the end that (of course by the Crucifixion) he might buy off from under the Law those who were subject thereto. If the apostle intended anything more definite by introducing this first clause, it may have been to glance at that fellowship with the whole human race, with all "born of women" (γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν, Matthew 11:11), into which God's own Son came by becoming himself "of a woman". To refer to yet another point, we can fearlessly affirm that this sentence of the apostle is perfectly consistent with the belief in the writer's mind that our Lord was born of a virgin-mother, for a specified reference to this fact did not lie in his way just at present, and therefore is not to be desiderated. The only point for consideration in this respect is whether the expression employed does at all allude to it. Many have thought that it does. But when we consider that "one born of woman." γεννητὸς γυναικός, in Hebrew yelud isshah, was a set phrase to denote a human creature, with no particular reference to the woman except as the medium of our being introduced into the world, it has been with much probability judged by most recent critics that the clause shows no colouring of such allusion. Nevertheless, we distinctly recognize in it the sentiment expressed in the familiar verse of the ancient hymn: "Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti virginis uterum;" else, why did not the apostle write γενόμενον ἐν σαρκί or γενόμενον ἄνθρωπον?
To redeem them that were under the Law (ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ); that he might redeem (Greek, buy off) them which were under the Law. In what way Christ bought God's people off, not only from the curse, but also from the dominion of the Law, has been stated by the apostle above, at Galatians 3:13, "Christ bought us off (Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν) from the curse of the Law by being made on our behalf a curse" (see note). But why, in order to effect this object, was it prerequisite, as it is here implied that it was, that he should be himself "brought under the Law"? The directions which the Law in Deuteronomy 21:22, Deuteronomy 21:23 gave with respect to those "hanged on a tree" were apparently held by Joshua (Joshua 8:29; Joshua 10:26, Joshua 10:27) to apply also to the case of persons so hanged who were not Israelites. If so, does it not follow that Jesus, even if not an Israelite under the Law, would, however, by being crucified, have fallen under the curse of the Law, and thereby annihilated the Law for all who by faith should become partakers with him, whether Jews or Gentiles? why, then, should be have been brought under the Law? The objection is met by the consideration that, in order that Christ might abrogate the Law by becoming subject to its curse, it was necessary that he should himself be perfectly acceptable to God, not only as being the eternal "Son of his love," but also in the entire completeness of his life as a man, and, therefore, by perfect obedience to the will of God as declared in the Law, under which it had pleased God to place his people. The Law, whatever the degradation which its ceremonial institute inferred for "the sons of God" subjected to it, was, nevertheless, for the time, God's manifest ordinance, to which all who sought to serve him were bound to submit them° selves. They could not be righteous before him unless they walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6). That we might receive the adoption of sons (ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσίαν ἀπολάβωμεν); that is, that our adoptive sonship might be actually and in full measure made over to us. The" we" recites God's people; the same persons as those indicated by the preceding phrase, "those which were under the Law," which phrase was not meant to define one particular class among God's people, but to describe the condition in which God's people had been placed. Their Father had put them under the Law with the view of their being at his appointed time bought off from the Law and admitted to the full enjoyment of their filial privileges. This purpose of their Father, signified beforehand in the promises to Abraham, explains the article before υἱοθεσίαν: it was the adoptive sonship which had been guaranteed to them. Hence the use here of the verb ἀπολάβωμεν instead of λάβωμεν: for the prepositional prefix of this compound verb has always its force; generally denoting our receiving a thing in some way due to us, answering to its force in the verb ἀποδίδωμι, repay: sometimes our receiving a thing in full measure (comp. Luke 6:34, Luke 6:35; Luke 16:25; Luke 18:30; Luke 23:1-42. Luke 23:41; Romans 1:27; Colossians 3:24; 2 John 1:8). In Luke 15:27 it is receiving back one lost. The second ἵνα is subordinate to the first; the deliverance of God's people from the Law was in order to their introduction into their complete state of sonship. The noun υἱοθεσία does not appear to occur in any Greek writer except St. Paul; though θέσθαι υἱόν υἱὸς θετός, υἱόθετος ὁ κατὰ θέσιν πατήρ, are found in various authors. After the analogy of other compound verbal nouns with a similar termination (ὁρκωμοσία ἀγωνοθεσία θεσμοθεσία, etc.), it means first the act of adoption, as, perhaps, Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:5; and then, quite naturally, the consequent condition of the adopted child, as in Romans 8:15; Romans 9:4; and this seems its more prominent sense here. Romans 9:4 suggests the surmise that the term had been in use before among Palestinian Jews, with reference to Israel's state under the theocracy, and that St. Paul borrowed it thence with reference to the Christian Church, in which it found a more complete realization.
And because ye are sons (ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί). The apostle is adducing proof that God's people had actually received the adoption of sons; it was because it was so, that God had sent into their hearts the Holy Spirit, imparting that vivid consciousness of sonship which they enjoyed. The fact of the adoption must have been there, to qualify them to be recipients of this divinely inspired consciousness. The affirmation in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God," closely resembles our present passage; but it is not identical. We are not made sons (the apostle intimates) by the Spirit giving us the consciousness of sonship; but, having been previously made sons, the Spirit raises in our spirits sentiments answering to the filial relation already established. The position of the clause introduced by "because" is like that in 1 Corinthians 12:15, 1 Corinthians 12:16. The persons recited by the "ye" are still God's people; not the Galatian believers in particular, except as a portion of the whole Church of God. The apostle puts the thought in this form to bring the truth more strikingly home to their minds. This he does more closely still in the next verse by "thou." But that he has in view God's people as a whole is clear, not only from the whole strain of the context, but also from the phrase, "into our hearts," in the next clause. God hath sent forth (ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ Θεός); God sent forth. The tense indicates that the apostle does not refer to a sending forth of God's Spirit to each individual believer, parallel to that "sealing" which believers are stated to be subjects of in Ephesians 1:13. This historic aorist, as it does in Ephesians 1:4, points to one particular emission—that by which the Comforter was sent forth to take up his dwelling in the Church as his temple through all time (John 14:16, John 14:17; Acts 1:4, Acts 1:5). The Spirit of his Son. The Spirit which "anointed" Jesus to be the Christ; which throughout animated the God-Man Jesus; which prompted him in full filial consciousness, himself in a certain critical hour with loud outcry (μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς, Hebrews 5:7) to call out, "Abba, Father!" The phrase, "his Son," is aetiological; by it the apostle intimates that it was only congruous that the Spirit which had animated the whole life of the incarnate Son should be shed forth upon those who by faith become one with him, and should manifest his presence with them, as well as their union with Christ, by outcome of sentiment similar to that which Christ had expressed. Since the sonship of Christ is here spoken of as if it were not merely antecedent, but also in some way preparatory to the sending forth of the Spirit, it best suits the connection to construe it, not, as in Ephesians 1:4, as that belonging to him in his preincarnate state of being, but as that which appertained to him after being "made to be of a woman," and in which his disciples might be considered as standing on a certain footing of parity with him. This harmonizes with the relation which in the Gospels and Acts the sending of the Spirit is represented as holding to his resurrection and ascension. The interpretation above given in one point presupposes the apostle's knowledge of the story of the agony in the garden, when, according to St. Mark (Mark 14:36), Jesus himself used the words, "Abba. Father." This presupposition is warranted, not only by the probabilities of the case, but also by what we read in Galatians 5:7 of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Pauline, certainly, if not actually St. Paul's. We have to add that the Gospels not only make repeated mention of our Lord as addressing the Supreme Being by the compellative of "Father," but also represent him as constantly speaking of God as bearing that relation both to himself and to his disciples. This mode of designating the Almighty was characteristic in the highest degree of Jesus, and up to that time, so far as appears in the Scriptures, unknown. The manner in which the apostle here speaks of the "sending forth" of the Spirit in close proximity to the mention of the "sending forth" of the Son, strongly favours the belief that he regarded the Spirit, as being also a personal agent. In Psalms 104:30 we have in the Septuagint "Thou wilt send forth (ἐξαποστελεῖς) thy Spirit, and they will be created." In Psalms 43:3 and Psalms 57:3 God is implored to "send forth [ἐξαπόστειλον, Septuagint] his light and his truth," "his mercy and his truth;" these being poetically personified as angelic messengers. Into your hearts (εἰς τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν). But this reading of the Textus Receptus is, by recent editors, replaced by the reading, εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν, into our hearts, the other reading being regarded as a correction designed to conform this clause with the words, "ye are sons," in the preceding one. In both cases the apostle has in his view the Church of God viewed generally. His putting "our" here instead of "your" was probably an outcome of his feeling of proud gladness in the thought of his own happy experience. A precisely similar change in the pronoun, attributable probably to the same cause, is observable in the remarkably analogous passage in Romans 8:15, "Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Crying (κράζον); crying out aloud. The word expressing loud utterance betokens in this case undoubting assurance. No faint whisper this of an inner consciousness, shy, reticent, because afraid to assure itself of so. glorious, so blissful a relation; no hesitating half-hope; it is a strong, unwavering conviction, bold, though humbly bold, to thus address the all-holy Supreme himself. The "cry" is here attributed to the Spirit himself; in Romans 8:15 to believers, these being the Spirit's organs of utterance; presently after in the Romans, verses 26, 27, the Spirit himself is said to "intercede with groanings which cannot be uttered … according to the will of God." Analogously, in the Gospels, evil spirits in demoniacs at times are said to "cry out", while in other passages the cry is attributed to the possessed person. Abba, Father (Ἀββᾶ ὁ Πατήρ). In addition to Romans 8:15, just cited, the same remarkable words are found once only besides, in Mark 14:36, as uttered by our Lord in the garden. St. Luke (Luke 22:42) gives only "Father" (Πάτερ); St. Matthew (Matthew 26:39, Matthew 26:42), "my Father" (Πάτερ μου: in verse 39, however, νου is omitted by Tischendorf, though he retains it in verse 42). St. Matthew, by adding μου to Πάτερ here, which he does not add in Matthew 11:25, Matthew 11:26, seems to indicate that the form of address which our Lord then employed bespoke more than usual of fervency or of intimacy of communion. According to Furst ('Concordance'), "Abba," אבָּ), occurs frequently in the Targums "sensu proprio et honorifico;" in the Jerusalem Targum taking the form "Ibba," אבָּאִ. In consequence, we may assume, of ,the "honorific" complexion of this form of the word, it was in Chaldee the form usually employed in compellation, or for the vocative. The hypothesis that either the Divine Sneaker, or the Evangelist Mark, or the Apostle Paul, added ὁ Πατὴρ as an explanatory adjunct to the Aramaic "Abba," for the benefit of such as might need the explanation, is resisted
(1) by the threefold recurrence of the conjoined phrases in just the same form;
(2) by the absence of any such intimation of a translation as we find given in other passages where an Aramaic word is explained, as in Mark 5:41; Mark 7:11, Mark 7:34; John 1:38, John 1:41, John 1:42; John 20:16; Acts 9:36;
(3) by the addition of ὁ Πατὴρ being made by St. Paul in the Romans, when writing with a glowing ardour of strong feeling wholly repugnant to the didactic calmness of a translational gloss: he does not pause to add such a gloss to "Maranatha" in 1 Corinthians 16:22, where it would seem to be much more called for. The apparently nominatival form of ὁ Πατὴρ lends no countenance to this view, as is shown by the comparison of Matthew 11:26, ναί ὁ Πατήρ: Luke 8:54, Luke 8:41 ἡ παῖς, ἔγειρε: and in the Septuagint, Psalms 8:1, Psalms 8:9, Κύριε ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν: Psalms 7:1, Κύριε ὁ Θεός μου. Another hypothesis that the twofold compellative was meant to intimate that God was now Father alike to Jewish believers and to Gentile, is wrecked upon its occurrence in St. Mark. The present writer ventures to surmise that the conjoined phrase originated thus: The Lord Jesus, being wont very commonly to substitute for the name "God" the designation of "Father," may be supposed to have used for this designation the word "Abba" as the honorific form of the Chaldaic noun for "father," in much the same way as the Jews regularly substituted the noun Adonai, an honorific form of Adonim, "lord," or "master," for the unutterable tetragrammaton, הוהי. Instead of Adonai, Christ customarily employed the word "Abba," as an almost proper name of the Supreme Being. When our Lord had occasion to apply the word "Father" as a common noun to God, whether in addressing him or in speaking of him, we may infer firm the Peshito-Syriac Version of Mark 14:36 that he added another form of the same original noun "Abj," or "Obj," instead of or in addition to "Abba." The Πάτερ of Luke 22:42 may have been used to represent "Abba;" St. Matthew's Πάτερ μου to represent "Abj" or "Obj." The use of "Abba, ὁ Πατὴρ" by believers, probably quite an exceptional use, was adopted, both as a conscious reminiscence of Christ's utterance in the garden—they, by conjoining themselves thus with their Lord, pleading, as it were, his Name as their warrant for claiming this filial relation with the Most High—and also as an intensely emphatic description of God's fatherhood, by conjoining together the almost proper name denoting his general fatherhood by which (supposably) Christ was used to designate God, and the common noun by which Christ's disciples had by him been taught to address him in prayer, and which embodied their sense of his especial fatherhood to those who serve him. The apostle is not to be understood as intimating that the Holy Spirit does actually produce in every heart in which he dwells the definite consciousness of sonship. It is enough for his purpose that the nisus, the endeavour and tendency of his spiritual operation, is in all cases in that direction, though through slackness on their own part so many Christians fail of conquering for themselves the full possession of their inheritance. But, however, we need not (he implies)go back to Mosaic ceremonialism to seek there for our assured sonship. We have it already here—here, in Christ, and in the indwelling presence of his Spirit.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son (ὥστε οὐκ ἔτι εἷ δοῦλος ἀλλ υἱός); so then, no longer art thou a bondservant, but a son. "Ωστε, properly "so that," is frequently used by St. Paul for" so then" or "wherefore," to state a final conclusion (cf. Galatians 4:16, below; Galatians 3:24; Romans 7:4, etc.). It here marks the conclusion resulting from the statements of the preceding six verses, viz. of God having sent forth his Son to do away with the Law, subjection to which had marked the nonage of his people, and to raise them to their complete filial position, and of his then sending forth his Spirit into their hearts loudly protesting their sonship. "No longer art thou;" by this individualizing address the apostle strives to awaken each individual believer to the consciousness of the filial position belonging to him in particular. Believe it: in Christ Jesus, thou, thine own very self, art a son! The phrase, "no longer," marks the position of God's servant new, as compared with what it would have been before Christ had wrought his emancipating work and the Holy Spirit had been sent forth as the Spirit of adoption; then he would have still been a bond-servant; he is not that now. This abrupt singling out one individual as a sample of all the members of a class is an instance of the δεινότης of St. Paul's style (comp. Romans 11:17; Romans 12:20; Romans 13:4; Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 4:7). The individual cited by the "thou" is neither a Gentile convert only nor a Jewish believer only; it is any member of God's kingdom. "A son," a member of God's family, an οἰκεῖος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Ephesians 2:19), one free of all law of bondage and in full possession of a son's privileges; no sinner, now, under his Father's frown; but accepted, beloved, cherished, honoured with his Father's confidence. And if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (εἰ δὲ υἱός καὶ κληρονόμος διὰ Θεοῦ [Receptus, κληρονόμος Θεοῦ διὰ Χριστοῦ]; and if a son, an heir also through God. So Romans 8:17, "And if children (τέκνα), heirs also; heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ." The inheritance here meant is the possession of every blessing which the theocratic kingdom entitles its members to look forward to. And the point of this added clause is that no further qualification is needed for our having a vested right in that inheritance, than that which is supplied by faith in Christ, uniting us to him and making us sharers with him; no such qualification, for example, as the Mosaizing reactionaries insisted upon (see Acts 15:1); no observance of ceremonial rites, whether of the Law or of such freaks of heretical" will-worship" as are referred to in Colossians 2:23. Thy faith in Christ (says in effect the apostle) gives thee now for good and all an assured place in whatever inheritance God designs to give his people. The manuscripts 'rod other authorities for the text present considerable variety in the reading of the last words of this clause. The reading adopted by L. T. Tr., Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, and Hort and Westcott, namely, κληρονόμος διὰ Θεοῦ, is that found in the three oldest uncials, and presents a form of expression which was likely so greatly to surprise the copyist as to set him naturally upon the work of revision; whereas that of the Received Text, κληρονόμος Θεοῦ διὰ Χριστοῦ, would have seemed to him so perfectly natural and easy that he would never have thought of altering it. The words, "heir through God," taken in connection with the foregoing context, insist upon the especial appointment of the supreme God himself; his intervention displayed in the most conspicuous manner conceivable, through the incarnated Son and the sent-forth Spirit. The believer is here said to be a son and an heir "through God," in the same sense as St. Paul affirms himself to be an apostle "through Jesus Christ and God the Father," and "through the will of God" (Galatians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1); for "of him and through him and unto him are all things," and most manifestedly so, the things composing the economy of grace which the gospel announces (Romans 11:36). The apostle has thus brought back his discourse to the same point which it had reached before in Galatians 3:29. The reader will do well to carefully compare this section of the Epistle (Galatians 3:3-48) with Romans 7:25-45 and Romans 8:14-45. With great similarity in the forms of expression, the difference of the apostle's object in the two Epistles is clearly discerned. There he is discoursing the more prominently of the believer's emancipation from the controlling power of a sinful nature, which, under the Law, viewed under its moral aspect rather than its ceremonial, was rather fretted into yet more aggravated disobedience than quelled or overpowered. Here his subject is more prominently the believer's emancipation from the thraldom of the Law's cere-monialism, which in the present Epistle, relative to the troubles in the Galatian Churches, he has more occasion to deal with. Both the one deliverance, however, and the other was necessary for the believer's full consciousness of adoptive sonship; and each was, in fact, involved in the other.
Howbeit (ἀλλά); a strongly adversative conjunction, belonging to the whole sentence comprised in this and the next verse, which are closely welded together by the particles μὲν and δέ. In contravention of God's work of grace just described, they were renouncing their sonship and making themselves slaves afresh. Then (τότε μέν). The μέν, with its balancing δέ, here, as often is the case, unites together sentences not in their main substance strictly adverse to each other, but only in subordinate details contrasted, of which we have an exemplary instance in Romans 8:17, Κληρονόμους μὲν Θεοῦ συγκληρονόμους δὲ Χριστοῦ. In such cases we have often no resource in English but to leave the μὲν untranslated, as our Authorized Version commonly does; "indeed" or "truly," for example, would be more or less misleading. The truth is, the apostle in these two verses is heaping reproach upon the Galatian Judaizers; first, in this verse, for their former (guilty) ignorance of God and their idolatries, and then, in the next verse, for their slighting that blessed friendship with God which they owed only to his preventing grace. In dealing with Gentile Christians the apostle repeatedly is found referring to their former heathenism, for the purpose of enforcing humility or abashing presumption, as for example in Romans 11:17-45; Romans 15:8, Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians 2:11-49, Ephesians 2:17. In the case of the Galatians his indignation prompts him to use a degree of outspoken severity which he was generally disposed to forbear employing. The "then" is not defined, as English readers might perhaps misconstrue the Authorized Version as intending, by the following clause, "not knowing God," which in that version is "when ye knew not God"—a construction of the words which the use of the participle would hardly warrant; rather the time referred to by the adverb is the time of which he has before been speaking, when God's people were under the pedagogy of the Law. This, though when compared with Christ's liberty a state of bondage, was, however (the apostle feels), a position of high advancement as compared with that of heathen idolaters. These last were "far off," while the Israelites were "nigh" (compare the passages just now referred to). During that time of legal pedagogy the Galatians and their forefathers, all in the apostle's view forming one class, were wallowing in the mire of heathenism. When ye knew not God (οὐκ εἰδότες Θεόν); ye knew not God and, etc. "Knowing not God" describes the condition of heathens also in 1 Thessalonians 4:5," Not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles which know not (τὰ μὴ εἰδότα) God;" 2 Thessalonians 1:8, "Rendering vengeance to them that know not (τοῖς μὴ εἰδόσιν) God." Both of these passages favour the view that the apostle does not in the least intend in the present clause to excuse the idolatries which he goes on to speak of, but rather to describe a condition of godlessness which, as being positive rather than merely negative, inferred utter pravity and guiltiness. He uses οὐκ with the participle here, in place of the μὴ in the two passages cited from the Thessalonians, as intending to state an historical fact viewed absolutely—a sense which is made clear in English by substituting an indicative verb for the participle. Ye did service unto (ἐδουλεύσατε); served; devoted yourselves to. The verb is, perhaps, used here in that milder sense in which it frequently occurs; as in Matthew 6:24; Luke 15:29; Luke 16:13; Acts 20:19; Romans 7:6, Romans 7:25; Romans 14:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9. The Revised Version, however, gives "were in bondage to" in the present instance, but "serve" in the passages now cited. The aorist, instead of an imperfect, describes the form of religious life which they then led as a whole. Them which by nature are no gods (τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὗσι θεοῖς). The Textus Receptus has τοῖς μὴ φύσει οὖσι θεοῖς, which would apparently mean "which arc not gods by nature, but only in your imagination;" like "There be that are called gods," in 1 Corinthians 8:5—Zeus, Apollo, Here, etc., mere figments of imagination. The more approved reading suggests rather the idea that the objects they worshipped might not be non-existent, but were certainly not of a Divine nature; "by nature," that is, in the kind of being to which they belong (Ephesians 2:3; Wis. 13:1, μάταιοι φύσει). The question may be asked—If they were not gods, what then were they? The apostle would probably have answered, "Demons;" for thus he writes to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:20): "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils (δαιμονίοις), and not to God." Alford renders, "to gods which by nature exist not," etc.; but the more obvious sense of οὖσιν is that of a copula merely").
But now (νῦν δέ); and now. (See note on "then" in Galatians 4:8). After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God (γνόντες Θεόν μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὐπὸ Θεοῦ); after that ye have gotten to know God, or rather to be known of God. Considering the interchangeable use of γνῶναι or ἐγνωκέναι and εἰδωέναι in John 8:55 and 2 Corinthians 5:16, it seems precarious to make much distinction between them as applied to the knowledge of God. The former, however, is the verb more commonly used in this relation; by St. Jn, in his First Epistle, where so much is said of knowing God, exclusively; although in other relations he, both in Epistle and Gospel, uses the two verbs interchangeably. The expression, "to know God," is one of profound pregnancy; denoting nothing less than that divinely imparted intuition of God, that consciousness of his actual being, viewed in his relation to ourselves, which is the result of truly "believing in him." Moreover, as it is knowing a personal Being, between whom and ourselves mutual Action may be looked for, it implies a mutual conversancy between ourselves and him, as the term "acquaintance" (οἱ γνῶστοί τινος), as used in Luke 2:44 and Luke 2:23. Luke 2:49, naturally does. So that "having gotten to be known of God" is very nearly equivalent to having been by God brought to be, to speak it reverently, on terms of acquaintanceship with him; and this does indeed seem to be meant in 1 Corinthians 8:3. The Galatian believers had in very truth gotten to know God, if they had learnt to cry out unto him, "Abba, Father." And the remembrance of this happy experience of theirs, which he had, we may suppose, himself witnessed in the early days of their discipleship, prompts him to introduce the correction, "or rather to be known of God." Their having attained such a consciousness of sonship had been, as he writes, 1 Corinthians 8:7, "through God;" he it was that had sent forth his Sen that his people might receive the adoption of sons; he that had sent forth his Spirit into their hearts to give them the sense of sonship; he had shown that he knew, recognized them to be his (2 Timothy 2:19), by gifting them with the blissful prerogative of knowing what he was to them. The correction of "knowing" by "being known" is analogous to that of "apprehend" by "being apprehended" in Philippians 3:12. The pragmatic value of this correcting clause is to make the Galatians feel, not only what a wilful self-debasement it was on their part, but also what a slight put upon the Divine favours shown to them, that they should frowardly repudiate their filial standing to adopt afresh that servile standing out of which he had lifted his people. What was this but a high-handed contravening of God's own work, a frustration of his gospel? And this by them whom only the other day he had rescued from the misery and utter wickedness of idolatry! How turn ye again; or, back (πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν); how turn ye back again. An abrupt change from the form of sentence which the foregoing words naturally prepared us for; which might have been such as we should have by simply omitting the "how." As if it were, "After having gotten to be known of God, ye are turning back again—how can ye?—to the weak," etc. This "how," as in Galatians 2:14, is simply a question of remonstrance; not expecting an answer, it bids the person addressed consider the amazing unseemliness of his proceeding (so Matthew 22:12; comp. also 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 John 3:17). The verb ἐπιστρέφειν frequently denotes "turning back" (Matthew 10:13; Matthew 12:44; 2 Peter 2:22; Luke 8:55). To the weak and beggarly elements (ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα); the mere elementary lessons, the A, B, G (see Galatians 2:4, and note), which can do nothing for you and have nothing to give you. The description is relative rather than absolute. The horn-book, useful enough for the mere child, is of no use whatever to the grown-up lad who has left school. In Hebrews 7:18 mention is made of "the weakness and unprofitableness" of the Levitical Law relative to the expiation of sin; which is not precisely the aspect of the Law which is here under view. The word "beggarly" was probably in the writer's mind contrasted with "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8). Whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage! (οἷς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεύειν θέλετε;); whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? The verb δουλεύειν is here, differently from Hebrews 7:8, contrasted with the condition of a son enjoying his full independence (see Hebrews 7:25 and Galatians 5:1). It would be an insufferable constraint and degradation to the full-grown son to be set to con ever and repeat the lessons of the infant school. Ἄνωθεν, afresh, over again, intensifies πάλιν by adding the notion of making a fresh start from the commencing-point of the course indicated. The application of these words, together especially with the phrase, "turn back again," in the preceding clause, to the case of the Galatian converts from idolatrous heathenism, has suggested to many minds the idea that St. Paul groups the ceremonialism of heathen worship with that of the Mosaic Law. Bishop Lightfoot in particular has here a valuable note, in which, with his usual learning and breadth of view, he shows how the former might in its ritualistic element have subserved the purpose of a disciplinary training for a better religion. Such a view might be regarded as not altogether out of harmony with the apostle's spirit as evinced in his discourses to the Lyeaonians and the Athenians (Acts 14:15-44; Acts 17:22-44). But though in his wide sympatheticalness he might, if discoursing with heathens, have sought thus to win them to a better faith, he is hardly just now in a mood for any such sympathetic tolerance. He is much too indignant at the behaviour of these Galatian revolters to allow that their former religious ceremonies could have been good enough to be admitted to group with those of the Law of Moses: he has just before adverted to their former heathenism for the very purpose of (so to speak) setting them down—a purpose which would be a good deal defeated by his referring to that cult of theirs as in any respect standing on a level with the cult of the Hebrews. Indeed, it may be doubted whether, at the utmost limit to which he would at any time have allowed himself to go, in the "economy" which he unquestionably was used to employ in dealing with souls, he would, however, have gone so far as to class the divinely appointed ordinances of Israel, the training-school of God's own children, with the ritual of demon-inspired worships. It is much easier to suppose that the apostle identifies the Galatian Churchmen with God's own people, with whom they were now in fact σύμφυψοι, blended in corporal identity with them. God's children had heretofore been in bondage to the A, B, C, of the Law, but were so no longer; if any of those who were now God's children took it in hand to observe that Law, then were they, though not in their individual identity, yet in their corporate identity, turning back again to the A, B, C, from which they had been emancipated. The former experience of Israel was their experience, as the "fathers" of Israel were their fathers (1 Corinthians 10:1); which experience they were now setting themselves to renew.
Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years (ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε, καὶ μῆνας καὶ καιρούς καὶ ἐνιαυτούς); days ye are intent on observing, and months, and seasons, and years. In the compound verb παρατηρεῖν, the prepositional prefix, which often denotes "amiss," seems rather, from the sense of "at one's side," to give the verb the shade of close, intent observation. This may be shown by the circumstances to be of an insidious character; thus the active παρατηρεῖν in Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7; Luke 14:1; Acts 9:24, and the middle παρατηροῦμαι, with no apparent difference of sense, in Luke 20:20. Josephus uses the verb of "keeping the sabbath days" ('Ant.,' Luke 3:5, Luke 3:8), and the noun παρατήρησις τῶν νομίμων, for "observance of the things which are according to the laws" ('Ant.,' Luke 8:3, Luke 8:9). The accumulation of nouns with the reiterated "and," furnishing another example of the δεινότης of St. Paul's style, betokens a scornfully impatient mimesis. These reactionaries were full of festival-observing pedantry—"days," "new moons," "festivals," "holy years," being always on their lips. The meaning of the first three of the nouns is partially suggested by Colossians 2:16, "Let no man judge you … in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day (ἑορτῆς νουμηνίας, σαββάτων);" in which passage, we may observe, there is a similar tone of half-mocking mimesis; where the same ideas are apparently presented, but in a reverse order. Comp. also 2 Chronicles 8:13, Offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles." The "days," then, in the present passage, we may suppose, are the sabbath days, together perhaps with the two fast days every week which the Jewish tradition prescribed (Luke 18:12). The "months" point to the new moons, the observance of which might occasion to these Gentiles considerable scope for discussion in adjusting themselves to the Jewish calendar, different no doubt from the calendar they had been hitherto used to. The "seasons" would be the annual festivals and fasts of the Jews, not only the three prescribed by the Levitical Law, but also certain others added by tradition, as the Feasts of Purim and of Dedication. So far we appear to be on tolerably sure ground. The fourth item, "years," may refer either to the sabbatical year (Le 2 Chronicles 25:2-14), which at any rate latterly the Jews had got to pay much attention to (1 Macc. 6:49, 53; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 14:10, 6; also 14:16, 2; Tacitus, 'Hist.,' 5:4); or possibly the jubilee years, one such fiftieth year, it might be, falling about this time due. Bengel ('Gnomon') supposes that a sabbatical year might be being held a.d. 48, to which date he assigns this Epistle; while Wieseler offers a similar conjecture for the year a.d. 54 autumn to a.d. 55 autumn. Very striking is the impatience which the apostle manifests in overhearing as it were the eager discussions occupying the attention of these foolish Galatian Judaizers. Their interest, he perceived, was absorbed by matters which were properly for them things of no concern at all, but which, with ostentatious zeal as such persons do, they were making their concern. The cause of their doing so lay, we may believe, in the feeling which was growing up in their minds that such like outward observances would of themselves make their life acceptable to God; this general sentiment habiting itself, in the choice of the particular form of outward ceremonies to be adopted, in the observance of the celebrations given by God to his people for the season of their nonage. The principle itself was no doubt repugnant to the apostle's mind, even apart from the Judaizing form which it was assuming, and which threatened a defection from Christ. Curious regard to such matters he evidently on its own account regards with scorn and impatience. But therewith also the old venerable religion, localized at Jerusalem as its chief seat, would under the impulse of such sentiments be sure to perilously attract their minds away from the "reformation" (διόρθωσις, Hebrews 9:10) to which it had now been subjected; and they were in danger of losing, nay, had in great degree at least already lost, the zest which they once had fell in embracing the exceeding great and precious gifts which Christ had brought to them. What was there here but the "evil heart of unbelief" spoken of in Hebrews 3:12, "in departing from the living God," now manifesting himself to his people in his Son? It is this animus characterizing the behaviour of the Galatian Churchmen which marks its essential difference as compared with that observance of "days" and "meats" which in Romans 14:1-45. the apostle treats as a matter, relative to which Christians were to live in mutual tolerance. As long as a Christian continued to feel his relation to the Lord Jesus (Romans 14:6-45), it mattered not much if he thought it desirable to observe the Jewish sabbath or to abstain from eating animal food. He might, indeed, make himself thereby chargeable with spiritual unwisdom; the apostle clearly thought he would; but if he still held fast by Christ as the sole and all-sufficing Source to him of righteousness before God and of spiritual life, he was to be received and welcomed as a brother, without being vexed by interference with these foolish tenets of his. It became different when his care for such really indifferent externals took his heart away from a satisfied adherence to the Lord; then his ceremonialism or asceticism became rank and even fatal heresy. And this was what the apostle was fearing on behalf of his once so greatly cherished disciples in Galatia.
I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain
." There is no need in respect to γίνεσθε to accentuate the notion of change this verb often means simply "show one's self, act as;" as e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:20, Μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε … ταῖς δὲ φρεσὶ τέλειοι γίνεσθε: 1 Corinthians 15:58, and often. "Be as I;" to wit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus as our sole and all-sufficing Righteousness before God, and in that faith letting go all care about rites and ceremonies of the Law of Moses, or indeed ceremonialism of any kind, as if such things mattered at all here, in the business of being well-pleasing to God, whether done or forborne. "Because I on my part am as ye." I, a born Jew, once a zealous worker—out of legal ceremonial righteousness, have put that aside, and have placed myself on the footing of a mere Gentile, content to live like a Gentile (ἐθνικῶς καὶ οὐκ Ἰουδαῖκῶς, Galatians 2:14), trusting in Christ like as any Gentile has to de who was bare alike of Jewish prerogative and of ceremonial righteousness. This "for" or "because" is an appeal to them for loving sympathy and fellow-working. What was to become of him if Gentiles withheld from him their practical sympathy with his religious life? To what other quarter could he look for it? From Jewish sympathy he was an utter outcast. The ἀδελφοί δέομαι, "brethren, I entreat," comes in here as a breathing forth of intense imploring. And a remarkable instance is here afforded of that abrupt, instantaneous transition in the expression of feeling which is one great characteristic of St. Paul when writing in one of his more passionate moods. Compare for this the flexure of passionate feeling prevailing through the tenth and three following chapters of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Just before, in this chapter, 1 Corinthians 15:8-46, the language has been that of stern upbraiding, and, indeed, as if de haut en bas; as from one who from the high level of Israelite pre-eminence was addressing those who quite recently were mere outcast heathens. But here he seems suddenly caught and carried away by a flood of passionate emotion of another kind. The remembrance comes to his soul of his own former sorrows, when he "suffered the less of all things," as he so pathetically tells the Philippians (Philippians 3:4-50); when in the working out of his own salvation, and that of the Gentiles to whom he had been appointed to minister, he had cut himself off from all that he had once prized, and from all the attachments of kindred and party and nation. A terrible rending had it been for him when he had ceased to be a Jew; his flesh still quivered at the recollection, though his spirit rejoiced in Christ Jesus. And now this mood of feeling prompts him to cast himself almost as it were at the feet of these Gentile converts, adjuring them not to turn away from him, not to bereave him of their fellowship and sympathy. Ye have not injured me at all (οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε); no wrong have ye done me. This commences a new sentence, which runs on through the next three verses. The apostle is anxious to remove from their minds the apprehension that he was offended with them on the ground of unkindness shown by them towards himself. It was true that he had been writing to them in strong terms of displeasure and indignation; but this was altogether on account of their behaviour towards the gospel, not at all on account of any injury that he had himself to complain of. He is well aware of the virulent operation of the sentiment expressed by the old maxim, "Odimus quos laesimus;" and is therefore eager and anxious to take its sting out of the mutual relations between himself and them. When the apostle is writing under strong emotion, the connecting links of thought are frequently difficult to discover; and this is the case here. But this seems to be the thread of connection: the Galatian Christians would not be ready to accord him any sympathetic compliance with his entreaty that they would "be as he was," if they thought he entertained towards them sentiments of soreness or resentment on personal grounds. There was no reason, he tells them, why they should; they had done him no wrong. There is no reason for supposing that the time of the action referred to in οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε is identical with that indicated by the aorists of the two next verses. From the words, τὸ πρότερον, "the first time," in verse 13, it is clear, as critics have generally felt, that there had been a second visit after that one. If so, a disclaimer of offence taken during the first visit would not have obviated the suspicion of offence taken during a later one. The aorist of ἠδικήσατε must, therefore, cover the whole period of intercourse. Perhaps thus: whatever wrong you may suspect me of charging you with, be assured I do not charge you with it; there was no personal affront then offered me. In what follows, it is true, he dwells exclusively upon the enthusiastic demonstration which they made of their personal attachment to him when he first visited them; but though the assertion here made is not to its full extent proved good by the particulars given in verses 13 and 14, and though the enthusiasm of personal kindness there described must, under the circumstances, have very considerably abated; yet, very supposably, nothing may have occurred since then—nothing, for example, during his second visit—which would show that they now disowned those feelings of love and respect. At all events, he refuses to allow that there had. No personal affront had he to complain of; while, on the other hand, their former intense kindness had laid up as it were a fund of responsive affection and gratitude in his bosom which could not be soon exhausted.
Ye know (οἴδατε δέ); and ye know. The apostle very often uses the verb οἵδαμεν, or οἴδατε, conjoined with either δέ, γάρ, or καθώς, when recalling some circumstance of personal history (1 Corinthians 16:15; Philippians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 2 Timothy 1:15) or to introduce the statement of a doctrine as one which would be at once recognized as certain or familiar (Romans 2:2; Romans 3:19; Romans 8:28; 1 Timothy 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:6). The phrase as so used is equivalent to "We [or, 'you'] do not need to be told," etc.; and with δὲ is simply a formula introducing such a reminiscence, this conjunction having in such cases head versative force, but being simply the δὲ of transition (meta-batic); equivalent to "now" or "and," or not needing to be represented at all in translation; so that the Authorized Version is perfectly justified in omitting it in the present instance. The phrase may be taken as meaning "And you will well remember." If the apostle had intended to introduce a statement strongly adversative to the last preceding sentence, he would probably have written ἀλλὰ τοὐναντίον (Galatians 2:7) or some such phrase. How through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you (ὅτι δι) ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you. "An infirmity of the flesh;" that is, a bodily illness. The noun ἀσθένεια is used for "illness" in John 11:4; Acts 28:9; 1 Timothy 5:23; Matthew 8:17. It also denotes a nervous disablement, as Luke 13:11, Luke 13:12; John 5:5. The verb ἀσθενέω is the common word for "being sick," as Luke 4:40; Luke 7:10; John 11:3, etc. It is possible that the apostle meant to say that the Galatians might not unnaturally have thought themselves treated slightingly in that his remaining among them so long was owing to illness and not to his own choice; but that yet, for all that, they had shown themselves most eager in welcoming their involuntary visitor. The words, however, do not require to be thus construed, and in all probability intend no more than to bring back to their remembrance the disorder under which he was then suffering. The illness would seem to have been of a nature to make his personal appearance in some way unsightly, and even repulsive; for the ἐξεπτύσατε, spat out, of the next verse suggests even the latter idea. Evidently this disorder, as also the one noted in 2 Corinthians 12:7, 2 Corinthians 12:8, did not disqualify him for ministerial work altogether. He adverts to the circumstance, as making it yet more remarkable and more grateful to his feelings, that, notwithstanding the disagreeable aspect which in some way his disorder presented to those about him, they had cherished his presence among them with so much kindness as they did and also with such reverential respect. How it was that his illness brought about this protracted stay, whether it was that he fell ill while journeying through the country so as to be unable to pursue his way to his ulterior destination, or whether the remarkable healthiness of the climate either first attracted him thither or detained him there for convalescence, it is impossible for us to determine. It is noticeable that St. Chrysostom's comments on the passage appear to show that he considered the apostle to be simply stating the circumstances under which and not those in consequence of which he preached the gospel to them; and so also OEcumenius and Theophylact paraphrase δἰ ἀσθένειν by μετὰ ἀσθενείας, suggesting the conjecture that they and St. Chrysostom understood the words as equivalent to "during a period of infirmity of the flesh." But this gives to διὰ with an accusative a sense which, to say the least, is not a common one. Is this illness of body to be connected with the affliction, most probably a bodily affliction, mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7, 2 Corinthians 12:8, "the stake in the flesh"? This latter affliction has been discussed very fully by Dean Stanley and Meyer on the Corinthians, by Bishop Lightfoot in his commentary on the Galatians, and by Dr. Farrar in his ' Life of St. Paul.' It appears to have first befallen the apostle after the "revelations" accorded to him fourteen years before he wrote his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, which he is supposed to have done in the autumn of a.d. 57. This would bring us back to about a.d. 43. The apostle's first visit to Galatia, according to Bishop Lightfoot, p. 22, took place about a.d. 51. When we consider that no doubt many of those wearing labours and hardships, interspersed with frequent suffering of gross personal outrage, recounted in 2 Corinthians 11:23-47, had been undergone in the eight first of those fourteen years (the stoning at Lystra certainly had), it must seem very precarious to conjecture that the malady here referred to was a recurrence of just that particular disorder experienced eight years before. How many other ailments might not the apostle have been subject to, amid the cruel allotment of suffering and hardship which prevailingly marked his course! It is quite as probable, to say the least, that he may then have been suffering in health or in limb from some assault of personal violence recently undergone. St. Luke gives no particulars whatever of this portion of St. Paul's journey, which is only just mentioned in Acts 16:6. The apostle visited Corinth for the first time not many months after this first sojourn in Galatia; and it is interesting to observe that he speaks of his having then ministered to them in "feebleness" (ἀσθενείᾳ, 1 Corinthians 2:3), in a manner strongly suggestive of bodily weakness. At the first (τὸ πρότερον); the first time—an expression plainly implying that there had been a subsequent sojourn. Respecting this latter visit, all we know is what we have so cursorily stated in Acts 18:23; unless, perchance, we may be able to draw some inferences relating to it from what we read in this Epistle itself. Chronologers are pretty well agreed in placing the commencement of this third apostolical journey about three years after the commencement of the second.
And my temptation which was in my flesh (καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν [Receptus, πειρασμόν μου τὸν] ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου) i and that which was a temptation for you in my flesh. "In my flesh;" that is, in my bodily appearance. Instead of ὑμῶν, the Textus Receptus gives μου τόν: but ὑμῶν is the reading of the best manuscripts, and, as the more difficult one, was the one most likely to be tampered with; it is accordingly accepted by recent editors with great unanimity. "My trial "would add to the sentence a tinge of pathetic self-commiseration. "Your trial" brings out the sentiment how greatly his affliction would be likely to indispose his hearers to listen to his message; it "tested" very severely the sincerity and depth of their religious sensibility. Ye despised not, nor rejected (οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε); ye scouted not, nor loathed. The disfigurement on the apostle's person, whatever it was, did not detain their attention; they did not, at least not long, occupy themselves with indulging their feelings of ridicule or disgust; their sense of it got to be soon absorbed in their admiration of the apostle's character and in their delight in the heavenly message which he brought to them. The verb ἐξουθενέω, in the New Testament found only in St. Luke and St. Paul, means always, not merely "to despise," but to express contempt for a thing, "to scout" (comp. Luke 18:9; Luke 23:1-42. Luke 23:11; Acts 4:11; Romans 14:3, Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:20). Grotius observes of ἐξεπτύσατε that it is a figurative expression drawn from our spitting out of our mouth what greatly offends our taste; quoting Catullus ('Carm.' 50, 'Ad Lic.'): "Precesque nostras, Oramus, ne despuas." Critics have remarked that ἐκπτύειν, which is not found elsewhere used thus metaphorically as ἀποπτύειν is, is probably so applied here by the apostle to produce a kind of alliteration after ἐξουθενήσατε: as if it were "Non reprobastis, nec respuistis." But received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus (ἀλλ ὡς ἄγγελον Θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν); but as an angel of God received ye me, as Christ Jesus. Their first feeling of aversation from his personal appearance gave place to emotions of delight in his message of which he seemed as it were the embodiment, and of reverential love and gratitude to himself. His manifest absorption in the glad tidings he brought, and in love to his Lord, irradiating his whole being with his unbounded benevolence and gladsomeness as the messenger of peace (Ephesians 2:17), was recognized by them with a response of unspeakable enthusiasm. A faint parallel is afforded by 1 Thessalonians 2:18.
Where is then (or, what was then) the blessedness ye spake of? (ποῦ οὖν [Receptus τίς οὖν ἦν] ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν;); where, then, is that gratulation of yourselves (or, of yours)? The reading, ποῦ οὖν, which is that of the best manuscripts, is now generally accepted in preference to that of the Textus Receptus, τίς οὖν ἦν, in which, however, τίς οὖν stands on a higher footing of evidence than the remaining word ἦν. This latter reading may be taken to mean: either, "Of what sort, then, was that gratulation of yours? "that is, what was its value in respect to the depth of conviction on which it was founded?—τίς being qualis, as Luke 10:22; Luke 19:3, etc., which would bring us to much the same result as ποῦ: or, "How great, then, was that gratulation of yours!" But the "then" (οὖν) comes in lamely; τότε ("at that time") would have been more in place; and, further, it is questionable whether the τίς of admiration ever occurs without the wonder taking a tinge of inquiry, as, for example, Mark 6:2; Luke 5:21; Colossians 1:27, which would be out of place here. With the more approved reading, ποῦ οὖν, the apostle asks, "What is, then, become of that gratulation of yourselves?" The "then" recites the fact, implied in the description given of their former behaviour, that they did once felicitate themselves on the apostle's having brought them the gospel. This is more directly brought into view in the words which follow. As the verb μακαρίζω means "pronounce happy," as Luke 1:48 and James 5:11, the substantive μακαρισμὸς denotes "pronouncing one to be happy;" as Romans 4:6, Romans 4:9. So Clement of Rome ('Ad Cor.,' 50), who weaves the apostle's words into his own sentence with the same meaning. This felicitation must have been pronounced by the Galatians upon themselves, not upon the apostle; the apostle would have spoken of himself on the object of their εὐλογία, not of their μακαρισμός. For I bear you record (μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν); for I bear you witness; testify on your behalf; the phrase always denoting commendation (Romans 10:2; Colossians 4:13). Compare "Ye were running well," Galatians 5:3. The verb denotes a deliberate, almost solemn, averment. That, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me (ὅτι εἰ δυνατόν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν ἐξορύξαντες ἐδώκατέ [Receptus, ἂν ἐδώκατε] μοι,); that, if possible, ye had spirted out your eyes to give them to me. The phrase, ἐξορύσσειν ὀφθαλμούς, occurs in the Septuagint of Judges 16:21 and 1 Samuel 11:2, Hebrew, "bore out the eyes." The omission of the ἄν, which is rejected by recent editors, perhaps intimates the certainty and readiness with which they would have done it; but the particle occurs very sparingly in the New Testament as compared with classical Greek. There seems something strange in the specification of this particular form of evidencing zealous attachment. If there had otherwise appeared any question of making gifts, the apostle might have been construed to mean, "Ye were ready to give me anything, your very eyes even;" but this is not the case. Possibly the particular mention of "the Churches of Galatia" in 1 Corinthians 16:1 may have been occasioned by their having shown an especial readiness, even at the apostle's second sojourn among them, to take part in the collection referred to; or by their having been the first Churches he came to in that particular tour, the directions which he gave to them being given also to all the Churches he went on to visit; but on this point see Introd. p. 16. The tone of Galatians 6:6-48 does not betoken especial open-handedness on their part, unless, perhaps, the words, "let us not grow weary," hint at a liberality once displayed but now declined from. On the whole, this specification of "eyes" seems rather to point to there having been something amiss with the apostle's own eyes, either from ophthalmia or as the effect of personal outrage perpetrated upon him. It is especially deserving of notice how the apostle, in the two clauses of this verse, links together their joy in their newly found Christian blessedness with their grateful love to himself; the latter fact is adduced as proof of the former. Their gospel happiness, he feels, was indissolubly woven in with their attachment to him: if they let go their joy in Christ Jesus, as, apart from any qualification to be acquired by observances of the Law of Moses, their all-sufficient righteousness, they must also of necessity become estranged from him, who was nothing if not the exponent and herald to them of that happiness. This consideration is of great moment for the right understanding of the next verse.
Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? [ὥστε ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα ἀληθεύων ὑμῖν;]; so then, am I become your enemy, because I deal with you according to truth? This is a wailing remonstrance against an apprehended incipient state of alienation. "So then," ὥστε (see note on Galatians 4:7), occurs repeatedly before an imperative; as 1 Corinthians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Philippians 2:12; Philippians 4:1; James 1:19; here only before a question. Its consecutive import here lies in the essential identification between their attachment to St. Paul and their allegiance to the pure gospel. If they forsook the gospel, their heart was gone from him. Naturally also their incipient defection from tile truth was accompanied by a jealousy on their part hew he would regard them, and by a preparedness to listen to those who spoke of him, as Judaizers everywhere did, with disparagement and dislike. No doubt the accounts which had just reached him of the symptoms showing themselves among them of defection from the gospel, and which prompted the immediate despatch of this Epistle, had informed him also of symptoms of a commencing aversation from himself. The construction of γέγονα with ἀληθεύων is similar to that of γέγονα ἄφρων with καυχώμενος in the Textus Receptus of 2 Corinthians 12:11, which is perfectly good Greek, even though the word καυχώμενος must be removed from the text as not genuine. The verb "I am become" describes the now produced result of the action expressed by the participle ἀληθεύων, "dealing according to truth"—an action which has been continuous to the present hour and is still going on. If the apostle were referring only to something which had taken place at his second visit, he would have probably used different tenses; either, perhaps, ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν ἐγευόμην ἀληθεύων—compare φανῃ... κατεργαζομένη in Romans 7:13 (or with a contemporaneous aorist participle, ἀληθεύσας); or, ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα ἀληθεύσας, like εἶναι μοιχαλίδα γενομένην ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ in Romans 7:3. As it stands, "dealing with you according to truth" (ἀλήθεύων ὑμῖν) expresses the apostle's continuous declaration of the gospel, and his never-flinching ins]stance upon the mortal danger of defection from it (see Galatians 1:9, προειρήκαμεν); and "I am become your enemy" points to the result now manifesting itself from this steadfast attitude of his, in consequence of their consciousness of meriting his disapproval. The verb ἀληθεύω occurs only once in the Septuagint—in Genesis 42:16, Εἰ ἀληθεύετε ἢου), "Whether there be any truth in you" (Authorized Version and Hebrew); and once besides in the New Testament—in Ephesians 4:15, Ἀληθεύοντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ, where the verb denotes, apparently, not merely being truthful in speech, but the whole habit of addiction both to uprightness and to God's known truth; for we can hardly leave out of our view this latter idea, when we consider how frequently the apostle designates the gospel by the term "the truth" (2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 13:8; Galatians 3:1; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 2 Thessalonians 2:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:4). "Enemy" is either one regarded as adopting a hostile position to them, or one viewed with hostile feeling by them, which latter is its sense in Romans 11:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:15. The above exposition of the import of this verse is confirmed by the consideration that the Epistle affords no trace of the apostle's relations with the Galatian converts having been other than mutually friendly at even his second visit to them. This fact is implied in 2 Thessalonians 3:12, and Galatians 1:9 furnishes no evidence to the contrary; for those warnings may have been uttered in his first visit as well as in his second, without occasioning or being occasioned by any want of mutual confidence. This view of their mutual relations is confirmed likewise by the feelings of indignant astonishment with which evidently the apostle took up his pen to address them in this letter: the tidings which had just reached him had been a painful surprise to him.
They zealously affect you, but not well (ζηλοῦσιν ὑμᾶς οὐ καλῶς); they admire you in no good way. Of the several senses of the verb ζηλοῦν, those of "envy," "emulate," "strive after," are plainly unsuitable in this verse and the one which follows. So also are the senses "to be zealous on one's behalf, to be jealous of one," which in Hellenistic usage crept into it, apparently from its having been in other senses adopted to represent the Hebrew verb qinne, and borrowing these from this Hebrew verb. The only phase of its meaning which suits the present passage is that which it perhaps by far the most frequently presents in ordinary Greek, though not so commonly in the Septuagint and in the New Testa ment, namely, "to admire," "deem and pronounce highly fortunate and blessed." When used in this sense, it has properly for its object a person; but with a suitable qualification of meaning it may have for its object something inanimate. Very often is the accusative of the person accompanied with the genitive of the ground of gratulation, as Aristophanes, 'Ach.,' 972, Ζηλῶσε τῆς εὐβουλίας "I congratulate, admire, you for your cleverness;" see also 'Equit.,' 834; 'Thes moph.,' 175; 'Vesp.,' 1450; but not always; thus Demosthenes, 'Fals. Legat.,' p. 424, "(Θαυμάζουσι καὶ ζηκοῦσι) they admire and congratulate and would each one be himself the like;" 'Adv. Lept.,' p. 500 (respecting public funeral orations), "This is the custom of men admiring (ζηλοὐντων) virtue, not of men looking grudgingly upon those who on its account are being honoured;" Xenophon, 'Mere.,' Galatians 2:1,Galatians 2:19. "Thinking highly of themselves, and praised and admired (ζηλουμένους) by others;" Josephus, 'C. Ap.,' 1:25, "(ζηλουμένους) admired by many." It thus seems to be often just equivalent to ὀλβίζω or μακαρίζω, with the sense of which latter verb it is brought into close neighbourhood in Aristophanes, 'Nubes,' 1188, "' Blessed (μάκαρ), Strepsiades, are you, both for being so wise yourself and for having such a son as you have,'—thus will my friends and fellow-wardsmen say, in admiration of me (ζηλοῦντες)." Probably this is the sense in which the apostle uses the verb in 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ζηλῶ γὰρ ὑμᾶς Θεοῦ ζηκῷ, "I rejoice in your felicity with an infinite joy;" referring to the intense admiration which he felt of their present felicity, in their having been betrothed a chaste maiden to Christ; not till the next verse introducing the mention of his fear lest this paradisaical happiness might be darkened by the wiles of Satan. It is in a modified shade of the same sense that the word is employee—where it is rendered "covet earnestly" in our Authorized Version in 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1, 1 Corinthians 14:39. In the passage now. before us, then, ζηκιῦσιν ὑμᾶς probably means "they admire you," that is, they tell you so. They were expressing strong admiration of the high Christian character and eminent gifts of these simple-minded believers; the charisms which had been bestowed upon them (Galatians 3:2); their virtues, in contrast especially with their heathen neighbours; their spiritual enlightenment. No doubt all this was said with the view of courting their favour; but ζηλοῦτε can hardly itself mean "court favour," and no instance of its occurring in this sense has been adduced; and this rendering of the verb breaks down utterly in 1 Corinthians 14:18. The persons referred to must, of course, be understood as those who were busy in instilling at once Judaizing sentiments and also feelings of antipathy to the apostle himself, as if he were their enemy (1 Corinthians 14:16). The Epistle furnishes no indication whatever that these persons were strangers coming among them from without, answering, for example, to those spoken of in Galatians 2:12 as disturbing the Antiochian Church. It is quite supposable that the warning which, not long after the writing of this Epistle, the apostle addressed to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20:29, Acts 20:30), when putting them on their guard against those who "from among their own selves should rise up speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them," was founded in part upon this experience of his in the Galatian Churches. Galatian Churchmen it may well have been, and no other, who now (as the apostle had just been apprised) were employing that χρηστολογία καὶ εὐλογία, that "kind suave speech" and that "speech of compliment and laudation," which in Romans 16:18 he describes as a favourite device of this class of deceivers, to win the ear of their unwary brethren. "In no good way;" for they did it insincerely and with the purpose of drawing them into courses which, though these men themselves knew it not, were nevertheless fraught with ruin to their spiritual welfare. Yea, they would exclude you; or, us (ἀλλὰ ἐκκλεῖσαι ὑμᾶς θέλουσιν); nay, rather, to shut you out is their wish. The reading "us," noticed in the margin of the Authorized Version, is probably a merely conjectural emendation made in the Greek text by Beza, wholly unsupported by manuscript authority. The ἀλλὰ is adversative to the οὐ καλῶς, the secondary thought of the preceding clause, in the same way as the ἀλλὰ in 1 Corinthians 2:7 is adversative to the secondary negative clauses of 1 Corinthians 2:6. The verb "shut out," with no determinative qualification annexed, must have it supplied from the unexpressed ground for the "admiration" denoted by the verb ζηλοῦσιν. The high eminence of spiritual condition and happiness on the possession of which these men were congratulating their brethren, they would be certainly excluded from if they listened to them. Compare the phrase, "who are unsettling you," driving you out of house and home, in 1 Corinthians 5:12, where see note. That ye might affect them (ἵνα αὐτοὺς ζηλοῦτε); that ye may admire themselves. The position of αὐτοὺς makes it emphatic. We may paraphrase thus: that, being detached from regard to my teaching, and made to feel a certain grave deficiency on your own part in respect to acceptableness with God, ye may be led to look up as disciples to these kind-hearted sympathetic advisers for instruction and guidance. The construction of ἵνα with ζηλοῦτε, which in ordinary Greek is the present indicative, ζηλῶτε being the form for the present subjunctive, is precisely similar to that of ἵνα μὴ with φυσιοῦσθε in 1 Corinthians 4:6. When it is considered how punctually St. Paul is wont to comply with the syntactical rule with reference to ἵνα, and that these two remarkable deflections therefrom are connected with contract forms of verbs in -όω, Ruckert's suggestion seems to be perfectly reasonable, that the solecism lies, not in the syntactical construction, but in the grammatical in flexion, contracting -όη into -οῦ instead of into-ῶ. This form of contraction may have been a provincialism of Tarsus, or it may have been an idiotism of St. Paul himself. Other expedients of explanation which have been proposed are intolerably harsh and improbable.
But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you (καλὸν δὲ ζηλοῦσθαι, [Receptus, τὸ ζηλοῦσθαι] ἐν καλῷ παντότε καὶ μὴ μόνον ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με πρὸς ὑμᾶς); but good it is to be admired, in what is good, at all times and not only when I am present with you. That is, but as to being admired and felicitated, the good kind of admiring felicitation is that which, being tendered on a good account, is enjoyed at all times, and not only, my little children, when 1 am with you, as on that first occasion when you were so full of mutual felicitation and joy in the newly found sense of God's adoption and love in Christ Jesus. In signification, this ζηλοῦσθαι, to be admired, is equivalent to μακαρίζεσθαι, to be congratulated, and was illustrated in the first note on Galatians 4:17, especially by the reference to Aristophanes, 'Nubes,' 1188. Ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν τῷ παρεῖναι με πρὸς ὑμας, "to be objects of admiration when I am present with you," is manifestly a recital of the μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν, "the gratulation of yourselves," of Galatians 4:15. The vivid remembrance of the simple-hearted joy and frank sympathy with each other's happiness of those days comes back to the apostle's mind with fresh force, after his brief mention and rebuke of the false-hearted gratulations and compliments by which they were now in danger of being ensnared. With a gentle reprehension of their levity, in that they were now bartering that former well-founded happiness for this later poor gratification of being recipients of mere false flattery, he yearns to bring them back to what they were so senselessly casting away, and that they should hold it fast, a stable joy, whether he was with them or not. This would be the case if "Christ were truly formed in them." The phrase, ἐν καλῷ, "in what is good," is similar to ἐν κρυπτῷ (John 7:4); ὁ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος (Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29). The sphere in which this admiring felicitation acts must be "what is good;" here that highest good which these Galatians were in danger of losing, if, indeed, they possessed it—being, and knowing themselves to be, sons of God. It is a doubtful point whether verse 19 should be conjoined with this present verse, with a colon between verses 19 and 20, and a comma only at the end of verse 18; or whether the sentences should be separated as they appear in our Authorized Version. But at all events, the earnest, anxious, tender affectionateness which, as it were, wrings the apostle's heart in writing verse 19, is to be felt already working in his soul in the writing of this eighteenth verse. The sense above given to the verb ζηλοῦν, though disallowed by Alford and Bishops Ellicott and Lightfoot, appears to be that recognized by the Greek commentators Chrysostom and Theophylact.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (τεκνία μου [or, τέκνα μου] οὔς πάλιν ὠδίνω ἄρχις οὗ μορφωθῇ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν); my little children (or, my children) of whom I am again in travail, until Christ be formed in you. It has been above remarked to be doubtful whether this verse should be conjoined with the preceding verse or with that which follows. The objection to the latter arrangement, presented by the δὲ at the commencement of Galatians 4:20, is thought by many to be obviated by a number of instances which have been alleged in which this conjunction is used with a sentence following a vocative compellation (see Alford, Ellicott). But such cases appear marked by a tone of vivacity and surprise which is not present here. On the other hand, the tone of loving affectionate anxiety breathing in this verse links it more closely with the preceding than with the following one, in which such pathos is no longer discernible, but is replaced by a deliberative attitude of mind. The word τεκνία occurs as a compellation here only in St. Paul's writings, though repeatedly in St. Jn's Epistle and once in his Gospel (John 13:33), where it appears as used by our Lord in an access of deeply moved affectionate-ness. St. Paul addresses Timothy as "his child" (τέκνον) in 2 Timothy 2:1 and 1 Timothy 1:18, not only as a term of endearment, but as denoting also his having been spiritually begotten by him (comp. Philemon 1:10; 1 Corinthians 4:15). Here the like sense attaches to the word, as is clear from the following clause, "of whom I am again in travail;" but the diminutive form of the noun, agreeing well with the notion of a child at its birth, combines in this case apparently a tender allusion also to the extremely immature character of their Christian discipleship (compare "babes (νήπιοι) in Christ," 1 Corinthians 3:1)—so immature, in fact, that the apostle is travailing of them afresh, as if not yet born at all. This particular shade of meaning, however, must be sacrificed, if we accept the reading τέκνα μου, "my children,'' which is highly authenticated. The verb ὠδίνω cannot be understood as pointing to gestation merely; it can only denote the pangs of parturition. The apostle by this figure describes himself as at this hour in an anguish of desire to bring the souls of his converts both to a complete state of sonship in Christ Jesus, and to a complete consciousness of that state—now at length bring them thereto, though that former travail had seemingly been in vain. In 1 Corinthians 4:15 and Phmon 1 Corinthians 1:10 he refers to himself as a spiritual father of his converts, and this too with touching pathos. Great is the pathos too of his reference to himself as, in his fostering care of his Thessalonian converts, like a tender "nursing mother cherishing her own children," and also as of a "father" of them (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:11). But neither of those passages equals the present in the expression of intense, even anguished, longing to effect, if only he might be able to effect it, a real transformation in the spiritual character of these Galatian converts. "Until"—I cannot rest till then!—"Christ be formed in you." The verb μορφόω, form, occurs only here in the New Testament in its uncompounded shape. A passage is cited from 'Const. Apost.,' 1 Corinthians 4:7, in which it occurs in the phrase, "formed man in the womb." In the Septuagint of Exodus 21:22 we have ἐξεικονισμένον of the unborn infant. It certainly seems as if the apostle used the word as one belonging to the same region of thought as the ὠδίνω, but, with the like bold and plastic touch as elsewhere characterizes his use of imagery, refusing to be tied to thorough-going consisteney in its application. Compare for example 2 Corinthians 3:2. When the hour of ὠδῖνες is come, the period of the" formation" of the babe has expired. Further, as showing the freedom of the writer's use of imagery, the easiest way of taking ἐν ὑμῖν is to suppose that "Christ" is here viewed as "within" them, and not as a likeness to which they are to be conformed: camp. Gal 2:1-21 :22, "Christ liveth in me;" and Colossians 1:27, where the "mystery" of the gospel is summed up in the words, "Christ in you the hope of glory." He cannot rest, he means, till the image, thought, of Christ as the Object of their sole and absolute trust, as the complete ground of their acceptance with God and their sonship, shall be perfectly and abidingly formed in their hearts. The hour in which a perfectly formed "Christ," that fair' Divine Child of joy and hope, has come to be there, in their hearts, will be the hour in which the apostle's travailing pangs have issued in their birth. No doubt the apostle is writing to persons baptized into Christ and thus clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27); persons, in the language of the Church, "born again." But however straitly we choose to be restrained in the use of such images, solidifying into rigid dogma similitudes used for such passing illustration as the occasion of the moment requires, the sacred writers themselves recognize no such restriction. As Chrysostom observes in his 'Commentary,' the apostle's language in effect is, "Ye need a fresh new-birth, a fresh remoulding (ἀναγεννήσεως ἑτέρας ὑμῖν δεῖ καὶ ἀναπλάσεως)." Baptized into Christ as those Galatians were, they were, however, in his view no true sons of God, until Christ had been really formed in their hearts.
I desire to be present with you now (ἤθελον δὲ παρεῖναι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἄρτι); I could wish to be present with you this very hour. The δὲ marks here simply a transition to another thought, and, as is not unfrequently the case, and as our Authorized Version assumes, needs not to be represented in translation at all. Bishop Lightfoot writes, "But, speaking of my presence, I would I had been present," etc. But this explanation is not necessary. The imperfect verb ἤθελον, like the ἐβουλόμην of Acts 25:22 and the ηὐχόμην of Romans 9:3, denotes a movement as it were which had just been stirring in the mind, but which for good reasons is now withdrawn: "I could almost wish—but long distance and pressure of other duties make it impossible." Thus much in explanation of the withdrawal of the wish. The wish itself was occasioned by the feeling that the yearning desire of his soul might perhaps be more likely to be achieved if, by being on the spot, he were enabled to adapt his treatment to a more distinct consciousness of the circumstances than he can possibly now have. "To be present with you;" the very words are repeated from Romans 9:18. It was well both with you and with me when I was with you: would that I could be with van now I (On ἄρτι,," this very hour," see note on Romans 1:9.) And to change my voice (καὶ ἀλλάξαι τὴν φωνήν μου). The tense of the infinitive ἀλλάξαι hardly allows us to take the word as meaning "from moment to moment according to the rapidly varying emergencies." This would have been expressed rather by ἀλλάσσειν. The question then arises—Change: from what to what? to which a great variety of answers have been proposed. The clue is probably supplied in the words, "be present with you this very hour." This ἄρτι, contrasting as it does the very present with the former occasions on which the apostle had been with them, suggests that he meant that the tone of his utterance would need to be different if amongst them just now from what it had then been. Then, it was the simple, un-anxious, joyous, exposition of the blessed gospel, untrammelled by fear of being misunderstood; such a way of speaking as one would be naturally drawn on to pursue who found himself addressing those whom he could confide in, and who were disposed frankly and lovingly, with an honest and good heart, to drink in from his lips the simple faith. Perhaps he might now find it necessary to replace that mode of utterance by guarded words, by stern reasoning, by the refuting of wilful misconceptions, by exposing and abashing cavil and objection. For I stand in doubt of you; or, I am perplexed for you (ἀποροῦμαι γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν); I am perplexed about you. Compare Θαῤῥῶ ἐν ὑμῖν, "I am in good courage concerning you" (2 Corinthians 7:16). As "in" the Corinthians the apostle found ground for good courage, so "in" the Galatians he found ground for perplexity. This explains his wishing that he were with them. He would in that case be less unable to clearly understand their state of mind.
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law (λέγετέ μοι οἱ ὑπὸ νόμον θέλοντες εἶναι). After the outburst of affectionate earnestness expressed in the last four verses, the apostle seems to have paused, reflecting in what way he could the most effectually convince these Galatian legalists of their error. At length, a consideration occurs to him, which he impetuously so to speak hastens to abruptly sot before them. He has before (Galatians 3:29) shown to the Galatian believers that they were "Abraham's seed." He now means to show that, as children of Abraham through faith in Christ, they stood on a far higher footing than the children of the Sinai covenant did—a position which, by subjecting themselves afresh to the Law, they would forego. The verb "desire" (θέλοντες), as here introduced, intimates that this aspiration of theirs was a mere freak of self-will, there being nothing in the circumstances to prompt it. So in Galatians 4:9, "Ye desire to be in bondage." In consequence of there being no article with νόμον, some would render ὑπὸ νόμον "under Law," that is, Law viewed in genere, as in Romans 4:15. But the whole scope of the Epistle resists this view. The apostle's contention with the Galatian perverters of the truth is not concerning Christians being subject to Law absolutely, but concerning their being subject to a Law of outward ceremonial observance; that is, to the Law of Moses; for there was no other system of positive ordinances by which, as of Divine authority, they could imagine themselves to be bound. The noun νόμος is used without the article, like other monadic nouns with an understood specific reference (for examples, Θεός, Κύριος Χριστός Πνεῦμα διάβολος κόσμος); as it is also Romans 2:23; Romans 3:31; Romans 4:13, Romans 4:14; Romans 5:13; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 4:5; Philippians 3:5, Philippians 3:6. Do ye not hear the Law? (τὸν νόμον οὐκ ἀκούετε;); to that Law give ye no heed? The article is here prefixed to νόμον to make the repetition of the noun the more telling; just as it is in Romans 2:23, Ος ἐν νόμῳ καυχᾶσαι διὰ τῆς παραβάσεως τοῦ νόμου τὸν Θεὸν ἀτιμάζεις; The verb ἀκούετε, hear, like our "listen to," means "take to heart what it says;" as in Matthew 10:14; Luke 16:29, Luke 16:31. There is no reason for attributing to the verb such a sense of listening to an oral utterance as should warrant us in supposing, that the apostle is thinking in particular of the Galatian Christians as in the habit of "hearing" the Pentateuch and ether Old Testament Scriptures read, whether in Jewish synagogues (cf. 2Co 3:14, 2 Corinthians 3:15; Acts 15:21) or in Christian assemblages. That such Scriptures in the Septuagint Version were customarily read aloud when Christians assembled for united worship, especially in the absence or dearth of other inspired writings, is more than probable: we know from Justin Martyr that such was the custom from Sunday to Sunday in his days, when there were ἀποστολικὰ ὑπμνημονεύματα also available for such use. Moreover, the existence of such a custom helps us to understand how it was that the apostle could here, as in Romans 7:1, presuppose with Christian believers an acquaintance with the contents of the Pentateuch. But we require more here than the thought, "Are ye not wont to hear the Law read?" It is rather an acquaintance with its contents, and taking due account of them, that he demands of his readers. Some uncial manuscripts have ἀναγινώσκετε, read, instead of ἀκούετε. This reading of the text would only imply, not without a touch of sarcasm, the sense which the more accredited reading, ἀκούετε, may be understood as directly denoting. The use of the word "Law" to denote at once the system of Mosaic legislation and the historical record in which it is embedded, is remarkable. The Jews were accustomed to designate the Pentateuch by this term (comp. Matthew 5:17; Luke 16:16; Luke 24:44); and whoever would fain subject themselves to the positive enactments of the Mosaic Law as possessing Divine authority, would of course feel themselves bound also to accept the teaching of the historical record as clothed with the like authority. The apostle himself also accepted both as alike coming from God; only he required that the Divine purpose in both should be clearly understood and be suitably complied with.
For it is written (γέγραπται γάρ); for the Scripture saith. The phrase does not here, as it does usually, introduce the citation of a text, but prefaces a brief summary of facts; these facts being recited in words gathered out of the Septuagint Version of Genesis 16:1. and 21., in much the same way as the story of Melchisedec is sketched in Hebrews 7:1-58. That Abraham had two sons (ὅτι Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν); that Abraham had gotten two sons; for ἔσχεν is not exactly equivalent to εἶχεν. Attention has been drawn to other sons born of Keturah (Genesis 25:1, Genesis 25:2), who both in ancient and in modern days (see Windisch-mann) have been very plausibly interpreted as analogously pointing forward allegorically to those heretical bodies, now vanished, which threatened such danger to the Church in the first centuries. But the apostle's concern here is exclusively with the posture of affairs subsisting at the time of Hagar's and Ishmael's expulsion from the patriarch's family, quoted in verse 30 from Genesis 21:1. Even if he had seen fit by allegorical exposition to apply Scripture to those dire forms of utterly perverted Christianity, which he certainly did look forward to as about to arise, it is very questionable whether he would have conceded to them so venerable a parentage as having Abraham for their forefather. Mosaism in its place was a thing of Divine origin, even as Christianity itself was, both of them "covenants" of God; not so the monstrous forms of Gnostic and Manichean teaching which horrified the primitive Church. In fact, typology, that is to say, the interpretation of Old Testament Scripture as bearing a designed allegorical sense, requires very cautious handling. The tracing of analogies is an interesting and pleasing exercise of theological ingenuity; but it is one thing to trace a parallelism, and a quite different thing to detect a latent predictive sense intended by the Holy Spirit. The one by a bondmaid (ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης); one by the handmaid; the expression pointing to the individual mother known from the sacred history. The word παιδίσκη in classical Greek means a girl either slave or free. In the Septuagint it is generally a slave (not, however, in Ruth 4:12, where it renders the Hebrew na'arah); in the New Testament it is always a maidservant. St. Paul borrows the word from the Septuagint of Genesis 15:1. and 21., where it renders the Hebrew shiphehah. Hagar was the personal property of Sarah. The other by a freewoman (καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας); and one by the freewoman. The word "freewoman" is never applied to Sarah in the story in Genesis; not even in the passage freely quoted in verse 30; but it was an obviously true description, and with perfect fairness introduced in antithesis to Hagar. As applied to one holding so princessly a position in the story as Sarah, the idea of a freewoman stands coloured with a deep tincture of dignity.
But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh (ἀλλ ̓ ὁ μὲν ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης κατὰ σάρκα γεγέννηται); howbeit the son by the handmaid is shown as born (or, begotten) after the flesh. The ἀλλὰ is strongly adversative; both, indeed, were sons of Abraham, but there was a marked distinction in the way in which they severally came into being. The apostle has evidently in his eye the analogy presented by the natural birth of the Jewish descendants from Abraham, as contrasted with the birth of Abraham's spiritual seed through faith in the promises of the gospel. This point, however, he is content with merely, in Galatians 4:28, Galatians 4:29, glancing at. His main point is the condition of both mother and child in each case, as being either both free or both in bondage. It is not clear whether the apostle by γεγέννηται meant "born" or "begotten," the verb being used in both senses: but neither is it material. The perfect tense of the verb either supposes us to be as it were present at the time of Ishmael's expulsion, in which case it would mean, "hath been born," or is used with reference to the record in the history, meaning in this case "appears in the story as having been born." So the perfect tense is used also in Hebrews 7:6, δεδεκάτωκε, εὐλόγηκε, and Hebrews 10:18, ἐγκεκαίνισται. "According to the flesh" does not precisely mean "in the common course of torture;" the word "flesh" rather contrasts the present visible sphere of human life with the invisible spiritual world, in much the same way as "flesh" is so often contrasted with "spirit." Ishmael was born "after the flesh," because he was born in the common course of nature; Isaac was born (Hebrews 10:28) "after the Spirit," because his birth was connected with the invisible spiritual world "through the promise," which on the one A hand was given by God the great Sovereign of the spiritual world, and on the other was laid hold of and made effectual in that same world of spiritual action by Abraham's and Sarah's faith. But he of the freewoman was by promise (ὁ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας δι [Receptus, διὰ τῆς] ἐπαγγελίας); but the son by the freewoman through a promise (or, through the promise). If the article before ἐπαγγελίας be retained, it is to be taken as pointing to the well-known promise made by the Lord to Abraham, both in the night in which God made a covenant with him (Genesis 15:1.). and afresh, in a more definite form, on the eve of the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18:1.). This promise was the means of Isaac's being born, calling forth as it did an acting of faith in God, both in Abraham (Romans 4:17-45), and likewise in Sarah (Hebrews 11:11), in consideration of which the Almighty beyond the course of nature gave them this child.
Which things are an allegory (ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα); which things are written (or, expounded) with a further meaning. The relative ἅτινα, as distinguished from ἅ, probably means "which facts, being of this description, are," etc., or, "things, which are of such a sort that they are," etc. (comp. Colossians 2:23 in the Greek). The apostle, perhaps, intimates that the particulars just recited by him belong to a class of objects distinguished among other objects presented to us in the Old Testament by having a further sense than the literal historical one; the literal historical sense, however, by no means being thereby superseded. Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:11, "Now these things happened unto them (τύποι, or τυπικῶς) as figures [or, 'by way of figure ']." The verb ἀλληγορεῖν, is shown by lexicons, Liddell and Scott's and others, to mean, either to speak a thing allegorically or to expound a thing as allegorical. Bishops Ellicott and Lightfoot furnish passages illustrative of both meanings, particularly of the second; and the latter adds the observation that it is possible that the apostle uses the verb here in the sense of being allegorically expounded, "referring to some recognized mode of interpretation." St. Paul did at times refer to authority extrinsical to his own (Ephesians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 11:16; 1 Corinthians 15:11). But whichever of the two possible senses of the verb ἀλληγορεῖσθαι was the one here intended by the apostle, there is no improbability in the supposition that not now for the first time was the narrative of Hagar and Ishmael thus applied: it is quite supposable, for instance, that it had been so applied at Antioch, in the animated discussions in which Paul, Barnabas, and Silas encountered the Judaists in that Church. At all events, it is not merely supposable, but in a high degree probable, that at least some of the historical personages, institutions, and events of the Old Testament Scriptures were wont to be allegorically treated by leaders of Christian thought of the highest authority. We cannot acquiesce in the position adopted by some critics, that such allegorizing is to be relegated to the region of mere Jewish rabbinism, now to be regarded as exploded. And we need not here insist upon the consideration that a rabbinical origin would constitute no valid objection to our acceptance of such allegorizing treatment of Scripture, because that the results of rabbinical exegesis and of rabbinical investigations in theology were in many cases of the highest value—a fact which those who are acquainted, for example, with Professor Reuss's 'Histoire de la Theologie Cbretienne' will not be disposed to question. For we resist the attempt to thrust us back upon the schools of the rabbins, as if it were from them only that St. Paul derived this allegorical method of Scripture exposition. Those schools may have made him acquainted with it, it is true; but altogether independently of rabbinical instruction, the leading teachers of the Church, even before Paul's conversion, "unlearned men," ιδιῶται, as the rabbinists regarded them, had, as we cannot doubt, learnt thus to apply Scripture in the school of Jesus. Christ himself, not only before his passion, but also, and we may believe with greater definiteness and particularity, after his resurrection (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:45; Acts 1:3), had imparted to his apostles and other disciples some expositions of historical facts of the Old Testament, which must have been of this description, and which would suggest the legitimate application of the same method in other analogous instances. And those men were not only disciples, pupils of Jesus, but were likewise especial, though not the exclusive, organs of the Holy Spirit's teaching in the Church (John 16:12-43; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11). Particular allegorical expositions, therefore, received amongst those apostles and prophets of Christ, came clothed with the highest authority, emanating as they well might have done from Christ's own oral teaching, or from an immediate special leading of his Spirit. And, further, we feel ourselves entitled to believe that the supreme Revealer of spiritual truth to mankind might well think fit to appoint, not only words or ceremonial institutions as means of imparting religious instruction or of prophetical indication, but historical incidents as well; not merely so ordering the manner in which his inspired organs framed their narratives of certain occurrences as to make those narratives prophetical, but also in his disposal of human affairs so ordering the occurrences themselves as that they should be prophetical; furnishing (so to speak) tableaux vivants, in which the faith of his servants should read, ff not spiritual facts which were as yet future, at least spiritual facts after they had come to pass, the prophetical adumbration of which, now recognized by them, would serve to confirm their belief in them and their comprehension of them. The fact that Christ repeatedly and most pointedly referred to the strange experiences of Jonah as prophetical of his own passion and resurrection proves to a certainty that events might be predictive as well as utterances of prophets. Our Lord's use of the story of the brazen serpent, of the gift of manna, and of the Passover (Luke 22:16) points in the same direction. We have also apostolical guidance in construing the Passover, the Exodus, the story of Melehiscdec, Abraham's offering up of his son, the yearly Fast of the Atonement, as legitimately subject to similar treatment. Since the old economy with its histories and its ordinances originated from the same Divine Author as the new, it is no unreasonable belief that in the things of preparatory dispensations he had set foreshadowings, and in no scant number, of those great things in the spiritual economy which from "eternal ages" had been his thoughts towards us, and in which the whole progress of human history was to find its consummation. In the apostle's discussion of his subject there are in part distinctly specified, in part merely indicated, a great variety of contrasts; these the reader will find presented by Bengel in his 'Gnomon' in a tabulated form with great distinctness. For these are the two covenants; or, testaments (αὗται γάρ εἰσι δύο [Receptus, εἰσιν αἱ δύο] διαθῆκαι); for these women are two covenants. The Textus Receptus has αἱ δύο διαθῆκαι. but the article is expunged by all recent editors. What the apostle means is this: the circumstance that Abraham had two wives pointed to the fact that there were to be, not one covenant only, but two. He has previously (Galatians 3:15, Galatians 3:17) spoken of "the promise" as a covenant; while also this term was already a familiar designation of the economy which God appointed to the natural "seed of Abraham." Compare also Jeremiah's mention of these two "covenants" (Jeremiah 31:31). For the use of the verb "are," comp. Matthew 13:37-40; Revelation 1:20. A is B, and B is A, in the characteristics which they have in common. The one from the Mount Sinai (μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινᾶ); one from Mount Sinai. The μία δὲ, or, ἡ δευτέρα, which should have followed to make the sequel of the sentence conformable with its commencement, is, in form, wanting, having in the framing of the sentence got lost sight of, through the parenthesis introduced fin-mediately after this clause to illustrate its bearing; for the words ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλὴμ of verse 26 only in substance furnish the apodosis to this protasis, being themselves evolved out of what immediately precedes them. The covenant which is our mother is styled, in Verse 28,"promise." Windischmann proposes for a formally corresponding apodosis something of this sort: Ἡ δὲ δευτέρα ἀπ οὐρανοῦ (or, ἄνωθεν), εἰς ἐλευθερίαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶ Σάῤῥα συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ ἢἐλευθέρα ἐστὶ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς τούτεστιν ἡμῶν (or, οἵτινές ἐσμεν ἡμεῖς). "From Mount Sinai;" being promulgated from Mount Sinai, it takes its being therefrom. Which gendereth to bondage (εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα); bearing children unto bondage Those subject to a covenant are regarded as its offspring; as Act 3:1-26 :35, "Ye are the children … of the covenant," etc.: their lives are moulded by its direction; they come under the promises, or the discipline, assured by its terms; in short, they owe to it their spiritual condition. The apostle assumes it to be a manifest fact, having before repeatedly asserted it, that those under the Law are in a condition of servitude. Which is Hagar (ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἄγαρ); which is Hagar. The meaning of ἥτις here is, "which being such in character as it is, is Hagar." This covenant, with its children, being wrapped in an element of slavery, is kindred in character with Hagar and her offspring. It is objected that Ishmael was not, in fact, a slave. But as Hagar does not appear to have been a recognized concubine of Abraham, in the same way as Bilhah and Zilpah were concubines of Jacob, but still continued to be Sarah's handmaid ("thy maid," Genesis 16:6), her child was, of course, born into the same condition. With Sarah's consent, it is true, Abraham might, if he had thought fit, have adopted him as a child of his own; but this does not appear to have been done.
For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia. This clause has been the subject of much conflicting opinion. The reading of the Greek text is itself much debated, and in the original authorities (manuscripts, versions, and Fathers) it appears in a great variety of forms. A detailed discussion of the latter point would be out of place here; and for the premisses from which the critical judgment is to be drawn, the reader is referred to Alford, and to a detached note which Bishop Lightfoot adds in his ' Commentary,' at the end of this fourth chapter. Only the main result needs to be stated. There are two forms of the text, between which the choice lies. One is that of the Textus Receptus, namely, Τὸ γὰρ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ," For the word Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia." This is maintained by Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, and San-day. The other, omitting the word Ἄγαρ, runs thus: Τὸ γὰρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβία, "For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia." This is accepted by Bentley, Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf (latterly), Bengel, De Wette, Windischmann, Howson, and Lightfoot. In respect to the original authorities, there is not generally thought to exist any great preponderance in the evidence for either the retention or the omission of the word "Hagar." The decision, therefore, depends chiefly upon a comparison of the internal probabilities. In order to this, we must gain as clear a view as we can of the meaning of the above two readings. That of the Textus Receptus, Τὸ γὰρ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, according to Chrysostom, as well as modern critics, means this: "For the word Hagar is [represents] in Arabia Mount Sinai." Chrysostom remarks, "Hagar is the word for Mount Sinai in the language of that country; "and again, "That mountain where the old covenant was delivered, hath a name in common with the bondwoman." Critics make reference to Galatians 1:17, "I went away into Arabia." "It is difficult," says Dean Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 50." to resist the thought that he [St. Paul] too may have stood upon the rocks of Sinai, and heard from Arab lips the often-repeated Ha jar, rock, suggesting the double meaning to which the text alludes." But the Arabic word for "rock" is chajar, differing from Hajar, the Arabic form of the bondwoman's name, by having eheth for its initial letter instead of he. Further, the Arabs would have used the word only as a common noun, "rock," and not as a proper noun, the name of the mountain. St. Paul could not have mistaken the one for the other. There is no evidence at all to substantiate Chrysostom's assertion that the Arabs did name the mountain Hagar; he apparently thought so only because the apostle seemed to him to affirm it. See Lightfoot further on this point. Moreover, the sentence, "The word Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia," is not what St. Paul would have written to express this idea; either, instead of "in Arabia" he would have written "in the language of the country;" or else, "for the Mount Sinai is called Hagar in Arabia." Another objection to this reading is the order in which the words Σινᾶ and ὄρος stand. Elsewhere where the words are conjoined the order is, as in Galatians 1:24, ὄρος Σινᾶ. The passages are these: Exodus 19:18, Exodus 19:20; Exo 24:1-18 :26; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:2; Nehemiah 9:13; Acts 7:30. The reversal of the order here indicates that Σινᾶ is the subject, and ὄρος belongs to the predicate; that is, that Ἄγαρ must be expunged from the text, and that we adopt the other reading, Τὸ γὰρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, "For Sinai is a mountain in Arabia," the well-known land of Hagar and her descendants; Genesis 16:7; Genesis 21:21; Genesis 25:18 (see Mr. Peele's articles on "Hagar" and "Shur" in the 'Dictionary of the Bible'). The article is prefixed to Σινᾶ as having been already just mentioned; as if it were "for this Sina is," etc. The purpose of the clause, however it be read, is plainly to make more colourable the allegorical exposition; it explains why the locality of the giving of the Law has been referred to in the words, "one, from Mount Sinai"—a local specification quite alien to the apostle's usual manner in referring to the old covenant, and only had recourse to here for this particular object. And answereth to (or, is in the same rank with) Jerusalem which now is (συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἱερουσαλήμ); and standeth in the same class (literally, in the same column) with the Jerusalem that now is. The use of the verb συστοιχεῖν the reader will find amply illustrated in Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon.' In the military language of Greece, illustrated out of Polybius, οἱ συστοιχοῦντες were those standing in the same file or column, one behind another (as οἱ συζυγοῦντες were those standing side by side in the same rank). Hence, as if tabulated on a board, ideas belonging to the same class, both types and antitypes, were conceived of as if placed in a vertical line in column, and so were called συστοιχοῦντες: whilst ideas belonging to a class contrasted with the former, both types and antitypes, were conceived of as placed horizontally opposite to the former in another column; the two sets of contrasted ideas being ἀντίστοιχα to each other. Thus in the present instance we have two columns—
Hagar, slave mother;
Ishmael, slave child;
Believers, free children.
Covenant from Sinai;
Jerusalem that now is; etc.
Jerusalem that is above; etc.
(Compare Erasmus's note in Peele's 'Synopsis.') It is not improbable, as Bishop Lightfoot observes, that St. Paul is alluding to some mode of representation common with Jewish teachers employed to exhibit similar allegories (see Bengel's note above referred to). We may, therefore, conclude that the subject of the verb συστοιχεῖ, whatever it is, is regarded by the apostle as standing in the same category with the now subsisting Jerusalem, especially in the particular respect which he presently insists upon; namely, as being characterized by slavery. For this is the main point of this whole allegorical illustration; that Judaism is slavery and the Christian state liberty. It is not clear whether the subject of this verb, "standeth in the same column with," is "the covenant from Mount Sinai," or "Hagar," or "Sinai." If either of the two former, then the first clause of this verse is a parenthesis. The construction runs the most smoothly by adopting the third view, which takes" Sinai" as the subject. Sinai, that gave forth the covenant which is represented by Hagar, "stands in the same column" with "the Jerusalem that now is;" for Sinai is the starting-place of the covenant which has now its central abode in Jerusalem; the people that was there is now here; and the condition of slavery into which Sinai's covenant brought them marks them now at Jerusalem. And is in bondage with her children (δουλεύει γὰρ [Receptus, δουλεύει δὲ] μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς); for she is in bondage with her children. The reading γὰρ is substituted for δὲ by the editors with general consent. That the subject of the verb "is in bondage" is "the Jerusalem that now is," is apparent from the contrasted sentence which next follows, "but the Jerusalem that is above is free." "With her children;" repeatedly did our Lord group Jerusalem with" her children "(Matthew 23:1-40. Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:35; Luke 19:44), having, however, in view the city itself with its inhabitants; while St. Paul probably regards Jerusalem more in idea, as representing Judaism in its central manifestation; "her children" being consequently these who were living under the Law. The apostle here assumes that this mystical Jerusalem with her children was in bondage, making the fact a ground for identifying her with Hagar. That the fact was so St. Paul knew, both from his own experience and from his observation of others. The religious life of Judaism consisted of a servile obedience to a letter Law of ceremonialism, interpreted by the rabbins with an infinity of hair-splitting rules, the exact observance of which was bound upon the conscience of its votaries as of the essence of true piety. The apostle also probably took account of the slavish spirit which very largely characterized the religious teaching of the ruling doctors of Judaism; their bondage, that is, not only to the letter of the Law, but to the traditions also of men; that spirit which those who heard the teaching of the Lord Jesus felt to be so strongly contrasted by his manner of conceiving and presenting religious truth. "He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes." But the main point now contemplated by the apostle was bondage to ceremonialism.
But Jerusalem which is above is free (ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ ἐλευθέρα ἐστίν); but the Jerusalem that is above is free. The mystic Jerusalem in which Christ reigns, the Son of David, who is at the right hand of God. For the word "above," ἄνω, comp. Colossians 3:1, Colossians 3:2, "Seek the things that are above (τὰ ἄνω) where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God: set your mind on the things that are above; your life is hid with Christ in God;" and Philippians 3:20, "Our citizenship (πολίτευμα) is in heaven." This is identical with the "heavenly Jerusalem" of Hebrews 12:22, which, standing in contrast with the "mount that might be touched and that burned with fire," Sinai with its soul-crushing terrors, appears associated with the pacifying blood of Jesus, and with communion with all that is holiest and most glorious. The essential identity of the contrast in the two passages, which are mutually illustrative, bespeaks a common origin in one and the same mind. The supernal Jerusalem is not chiefly contrasted with the Jerusalem "that now is," in point of time: she is not the future only, though in the future to be manifested—the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down (as St. John writes) from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2); but she is there now, with God. It would be in harmony with St. Paul's representation to suppose that he conceives of her having been there with God in heaven of old, her citizens upon earth being the true servants of God in all ages. In former ages, however, she was comparatively barren; it needed that the enthronization of the God-Man, "the Mediator of the new covenant'' (Hebrews 12:24), on "God's holy hill of Zion," should take place before she could become the prolific mother here shown to us. Commentators refer to rabbinical speculations relative to a Jerusalem which was conceived of as existing in heaven, as illustrated by Schottgen's 'Dissertatio de Hierosol. Caelesti' ('Hor. Hebr.,' vol. 1. diss. 5.), and also by Wetstein both here and on Revelation 21:1-66. It would be interesting if we could determine when those rabbinical speculations first arose, and how far it may be judged probable that they or some earlier form of them out of which these sprang suggested anything to St. Paul for the form in which he clothed his own conception of this idea; there may have been such. Meanwhile, we cannot but be struck by the purely ideal and spiritual character in which the apostle here exhibits his conception of it; though something like a terrene manifestation in the future seems indicated in Romans 8:21. "Is free;" the counterpart of Sarah, as mentioned in Romans 8:22, Romans 8:23. That this Jerusalem is free, the apostle feels it needless to state; she to his very consciousness is the very home and bosom of God's love, having her very existence, as well as her outward-acting power, in his pervading, actuating Spirit. Bondage, constraint, there cannot be; for all volitions are there harmonized, absorbed, by the Spirit of love uniting her component elements both with each other and with God. Which is the mother of us all (ἥτις ἐστὶ μήτηρ ἡμῶν [Receptus, πάντων ἡμῶν]) which is our mother. Here again, as in Romans 8:24, ἥτις means "which, being such as she is, is our mother." We look at the Jerusalem that is above, and in her princely freedom we recognize what we her children are. The πάντων, which the Textus Receptus has before ἡμῶν, and which is by the general consent of critics rejected, is with much probability supposed to have come into the text by the copyist's recollection of the similar sentence in Romans 4:16,Romans 4:17, Ἀβραάμ, ὅς ἐστι πατὴρ πάντων ἡμῶν. But πάντων, which there belongs to the essential thought of the context that God had made Abraham "the father of many nations," is unnecessary here, where the apostle is chiefly concerned with the freedom which characterizes the family of promise. If documentary evidence proved it to be genuine, it would find its justification in the notion of the fruitfulness which now at length, as the apostle presently shows, is given to the supernal Jerusalem.
For it is written (γέγραπται γάρ). The points indicated in the section of Isaiah (54.) referred to by the quotation which is made of the first verse, and which amply make good what the apostle has been stating and implying, are these: that a new economy was to appear; that by this economy a multitude of servants of God should be called into being; that this multitude should in numbers far surpass those called into being heretofore; that this economy, though newly manifested, had been in existence before, but comparatively unblest with offspring; that it was to be known as an economy of forgiving, adopting love, involving a principle of spiritual life and of spontaneous, no longer constrained and servile, obedience. We need not hesitate in asserting that the last-named features of the new economy were, in the apostle's view, included in the prediction he means to refer to, although not contained in those words of the prophet which he has expressly quoted. For it is one of the characteristics of a Jewish religious teacher's method of citing Scripture, noted by the learned Dr. Biesenthal, himself a Jew, in his 'Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews', that he is wont to omit in his express citation more or less of the passage referred to, leaving it to his hearer or reader to supply the omitted portions from his own knowledge, even when these are most material for the argument; as e.g. in Hebrews 6:13, Hebrews 6:14, the" oath," fully recorded in Genesis 22:16, is not itself contained in the citation made by the writer. The above-named, then, we may assume to have been points which the apostle regarded as contained in the passage he refers to, because they are contained in the section of which the cited words are an integral portion. Whatever may be thought of the applicability, in a measure, of the prophet's language in the section alluded to, to the case of Israel restored from the Babylonian captivity, yet that such an application furnishes no complete explanation of its import is clear from the circumstance that this jubilant prophesying follows immediately upon the delineation in the preceding chapter of the sufferings of Christ—a delineation which ended with the intimation of the results which should follow in the triumph over mighty powers opposing the Sufferer, and in the work of justification which he would accomplish upon "many" (Isaiah 51:10-23). That the section was understood by our Lord to refer to the new economy which he was himself to introduce, is evidenced by his citing the words, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord" (ver 13), as pointing to the spiritual illumination which should at the time referred to characterize the people of God universally, so universally that none would be numbered amongst God's true people, that is, amongst the disciples of his Son, who had not "heard from the Father" (John 6:45). We have, then, in this section of Isaiah a distinctly predictive description of a condition of spiritual well-being which was to result from Christ's mediation; that is, of the illumination, peace and joyful sense of God's love which then should be the "heritage of the servants of the Lord." This, construed in the apostle's imagery, connecting itself with that of the words which he expressly quotes, is the large multiplication of the children of the freewoman, bringing forth her offspring into a state of freedom and adoption in the great Father's family. The Greek rendering of the passage given by the apostle is identical with that of the Vatican text of the Septuagint. The Alexandrian text varies only in adding καὶ τέρπου, "and be glad," to the word βόησον, "cry." apparently to explain what kind of crying out was intended. Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not (εὐφράνθητι στεῖρα ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα). The Authorized Version as well as the Revised thus renders the Greek here; but in the original passage in Isaiah the former renders, "that didst not bear." the Hebrew having the preterite indicative; and similarly, the "travailest not" in the next clause here is "didst not travail" there. The participles, τίκτουσα and ὠδίνουσα, may be classed with τυφλὸς ὤν ἄρτι βλέπω in John 9:25, expressing the normal state as hitherto known, though just now subjected to a change. Break forth and cry, thou that travailest not (ῥῆξον καὶ βόησον ἡ οὺκ ὠδίνουσα); break forth and shout, thou that travailest not. But the Hebrew has "break forth into singing" instead of "break forth and shout;" and so m Isaiah 49:13; the word for "singing" denoting unarticulated cries of joy, as in Psalms 30:5, and often. The Hebrew word for "break forth" appears to mean "scream (for joy)," as in Isaiah 12:6, etc. For the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband (ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον ἢτῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα); for more are the children of the desolate than of her which hath the husband. The word "desolate" represents the same Hebrew participle in 2 Samuel 13:20, where the Septuagint has χηρεύουσα, widowed. It points in the present case to the solitary and unhappy condition of a woman "forsaken by her husband" (comp. Isaiah 54:6). On the other hand, the words, τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα, render the one Hebrew word be'ulah, the passive participle of the verb ba'al, cohabit with. Compare the use of this verb in Deuteronomy 24:1-5. I; Deuteronomy 21:13, "and be her husband." The words, therefore, denote her that had her husband living with her as such; "hath," as John 4:18; 1Co 5:1; 1 Corinthians 7:2. "The husband" is conceived of as belonging both to her and of right to the "desolate one." Perhaps τὸν ἄνδρα may be rendered "her husband." In the prophet's view, the "woman which had her husband" was the visible Israel, possessing the temple and the other tokens of the Lord's dwelling in her midst; the "desolate one" was the spiritual or the ideal Israel to be manifested in the future; for the present out of sight and seemingly in abeyance; but thereafter to he quickened into fertility by the inhabitation of the Lord (for he in the prophet's vision, 1 Corinthians 7:5, is the Husband), revealed in his first suffering then glorified Servant as portrayed in the foregoing prophesying. So exactly do these two images correspond with "the Jerusalem that now is" and "the Jerusalem that is above," of the apostle's imagery, that his use of the prophet's words is plainly no mere accommodation to his purpose of language which was in reality alien to the subject, but is the citation of a passage regarded by him as strictly predictive, and therefore probative of the truth of his representation. The view of this prophecy of Isaiah found in Clemens Romanus, Ep. it., 'Ad Corinthians,' § 2, and in Justin Martyr, 'Apol.,' p. 88, which regards it as referring to the Gentile Church as contrasted with the Jewish, is plainly a misconception of its import: the rejoicing mother of the prophet, as well as the supernal Jerusalem of the apostle, knows of no distinction in her believing offspring, between Jew and Gentile, comprising both alike.
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise (ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί κατὰ Ἰσαακ ἐπαγγελίας τέκνα ἐσμέν [or, ὑμεῖς δέ... ἐστέ]); now we (or, now ye), brethren, after the mariner of Isaac, are children of promise. In the Greek text it is uncertain whether we should read ἡμεῖς... ἐσμέν or ὑμεῖς.., ἐστέ, "we are" or "ye are." The only difference is that "ye are" would more directly thrust upon the attention of the Galatians the conclusion, which "we are" would express in a more general form. "After the manner of Isaac;" κατὰ as in Ephesians 4:24, τὸν κατὰ Θεὸν κτισθέντα: 1 Peter 1:15, Κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα: Lamentations 1:12, Septuagint, Ἄλγος κατὰ τὸ ἄλγος μοῦ. The apostle is viewing Isaac as in the manner of his being brought into being, the type, to which the children of the mystic freewoman were in after ages to be assimilated. In both cases the children are born or begotten through a promise which God of his own free grace hath given, and which, by an accepting faith, is appropriated and made effectual. Thus Isaac was born. The children of the supernal Jerusalem are begotten through the gospel, which in effect is a promise of adoption through Christ to be children of God held out to all who will accept it. Obviously the cases differ in this—that in one it was the faith of the parents which made the promise effectual; in the other, the faith of those who in consequence of believing become children. But none the less is it true that the result is due to an announcement proceeding out of God's own free grace—"Not of works but of him that calleth" (Romans 9:7-45; comp. John 1:12, John 1:13; 1 Corinthians 4:15; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). The "promise" is not the parent of the children; this, in the imagery now present to the apostle's mind, is in the antitypal case the mystic Freewoman. The genitive "of promise" is a genitive of qualification, pointing here to the means through which the children are begotten. Compare a somewhat similarly loose use of the genitive in Romans 9:8, "Not the children of the flesh.., but the children of the promise." The case of baptized infants is not in the apostle's view.
But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit (ἀλλ ὥσπερ τότε ὁ κατὰ σάρκα γεννηθεὶς ἐδίωκε τὸν κατὰ Πνεῦμα). (For the phrase, "after," or "according to, the Spirit," see note on Galatians 4:23.) It must be conceded that the apostle somewhat strains the expression in applying it to the case of Isaac; but he does it for the purpose of exhibiting the manner of his birth as homogeneous with that of his antitypes; for these are they of whom it is the more characteristically true; for they are begotten through the Spirit's agency, into the Spirit's kingdom, to be to the uttermost perfected by the Spirit. The imperfect ἐδίωκε, was persecuting, points to the scene presented to our view in Genesis 21:9, in the midst of which intervenes the injunction," Cast out," etc.; or possibly the apostle regards what then took place as one among other incidents exhibiting the same animus on the part of Ishmael. We cannot doubt that St. Paul points to the word "mocking," which occurs in the passage referred to. At the feast held in honour of Isaac's being weaned, "Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking." The same Hebrew verb is used of insult and disrespect in Genesis 39:14, "He hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us;" so again Genesis 39:17. The Septuagint, as we now have it, instead of "mocking," has παίζοντα μετὰ Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτῆς, "at play with Isaac her son;" which would indicate no unkindness on Ishmael's part, but suggest the idea that Sarah's resentment was simply a movement of jealous feeling, roused by her seeing Ishmael assuming a position of equality with a child of hers. But the apostle disregards this interpretation, if indeed the words, "with Isaac her sons" had already then been interpolated into the passage. As those words are not in the Hebrew, the participles lacking any such explanatory adjunct, would fail of itself to express this idea. It is further rendered improbable by the disparity in age between the two lads; for Isaac, having been just weaned, would be only two or three years old, whilst Ishmael would be sixteen or seventeen. It is much more likely that Ishmael, having arrived at these years, participated in Hagar's feelings of jealousy and disappointment that this child should have come to supersede him in the position which, but for this, he might have held in the family; and that, on the occasion of this "great feast," by which the aged pair were celebrating their pious joy ever this "child of promise" as well as very markedly signalizing his peculiar position as Abraham's heir, the elder-born indulged himself in ill-natured and very possibly profane ridicule of the circumstances under which Isaac was born. Hagar's feelings towards her mistress had of old been those of upstart insubordination (Genesis 16:4). That both mother and son were very greatly in the wrong is evidenced by the sanction which Heaven accorded to the punishment with which they were visited. The critics (see Wetstein) quote the following passage from the rabbinical treatise, 'Bereshith rabb.,' 53, 15. "Rabbi Asaria said: Ishmael said to Isaac, 'Let us go and see our portion in the field;' and Ishmael took bow and arrows, and shot at Isaac, and pretended that he was in sport." St. Paul's view, therefore, of the import of the Hebrew participle rendered "mocking" is corroborated by the rabbinical interpretation of the word—a consideration which in such a case is of no small weight. The particular word, "persecuted,'' with which the apostle describes Ishmael's behaviour to his half-brother, was, no doubt, like the expression, "born after the Spirit," suggested by the antitypal case to which he is comparing it. But the features justifying its application to Ishmael viewed as typical were these—spiteful jealousy; disregard of the will of God; antipathy to one chosen of God to be Abraham's seed; abuse of superior power. Even so it is now (οὕτω καὶ νῦν); even so he does now. The full sentence represented by this elliptic one is: "even so now does he that is born after the flesh persecute him that is born after the Spirit." This was a fact with which the apostle's experience was but too familiar. In Asia Minor itself, as the Acts abundantly testifies, from city to city had he been dogged by the animosity of the "children of Hagar." No doubt something of this had been witnessed even in the Galatian towns, of the evangelization of which we have no equally full particulars; there, too, we may believe, St. Paul's converts had had to note the abhorrence with which their master was regarded by the adherents of the old religion; and it was natural that this should have a tendency to lessen his hold upon their minds; for were not the Jews the ancient Israel of God, the depositaries of his revelations? Moreover, the hostility which harassed him would also alight more or less upon them as being disciples of his (see Jerusalem that is above; etc.Acts 6:12, and note). All this might make some of them the more ready to listen to Judaizing suggestions. In this verse, therefore, St. Paul is not merely breathing out a sorrow of his own but is fortifying the Galatian believers against a temptation assaulting themselves.
Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? (ἀλλὰ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή). "Nevertheless:" man is acting thus; but, what cloth God say touching the matter? The similar question in Romans 11:4, "But what saith the answer of God (ὁ χρηματισμὸς) to him?" favours the belief that by "the Scripture" the apostle does not mean Scripture in general (as e.g. John 10:35), but the particular "passage of Scripture" to which he is referring (cf. John 19:37; Acts 1:16). The animation of his tone is that of the triumphant assertion of the Almighty's will as an all-suffering answer to all objections and all discouragements. For "the Scripture" is equivalent to "the utterance of God;" not merely as found in an inspired volume, but because of the circumstances attending upon the speaking of the words (comp. Romans 9:17 : Galatians 3:8). They were, indeed, uttered by Sarah; being, however, not words of a simply jealous and petulant woman, but of a righteously indignant matron, whose just, if severe, requirement was enforced upon the reluctant Abraham by God's own express command. The historical fact itself, as thus recorded, was singularly noticeable, standing in a position marking it as peculiarly significant: that it really was a type, prophetical of a certain future spiritual procedure, is ascertained for us by the apostle's exposition. Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman (ἔκβαλε τὴν παιδίσκην καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς ου), γὰρ μὴ κληρονομήσῃ [or, κληρονομήσει] ὁ υἱὸς τῆς παιδίσκης μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἐλευθέρας cast out the handmaid and her son: for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman. The Septuagint has "Cast out this (ταύτην) handmaid and her son; for the son of this (ταύτης) handmaid shall not inherit with my son Isaac (μετᾶ τοῦ υἱοῦ μου Ἰσαάκ);" the apostle's citation being literally exact, except that it has not the words ταύτην and ταύτης (which are not in the Hebrew), and substitutes "the son of the freewoman" for "my son Isaac." His object in these 'changes, which do not in the least affect the substance, is to mark the utterance the more distinctly as God's own voice, speaking of the parties concerned, not as Sarah did, being one of them, but as supreme Ruler and Judge: for the Lord adopted her decision for his own. In respect to Ishmael's exclusion from inheriting, the instance of Jephthah (Judges 11:1, Judges 11:2), excluded in somewhat similar terms by the legitimate sons of his father ("Thou shalt not inherit in the house of our father; for the son of a harlot woman art thou"), does not apply. Hagar was not a "harlot;" but stood with respect to Sarah in much the same position as did Bilhah and Zilpah to Rachel and Leah. We cannot doubt but that the discrimination made between the two sons, whatever was the character of Sarah's feelings in the matter, is to be ascribed to God's own sovereign appointment (see Romans 9:7, Romans 9:11). In this terrible sentence, by which Hagar and Ishmael were driven forth beyond the pale of God's most especial guardianship and blessing, the apostle hears the voice of God bidding away from his covenant all who disbelieved the gospel—all, that is, who set aside God's assurances of his tree unmerited love to all who believed in Jesus. It should seem that it was mainly for the purpose of introducing this denunciation that the apostle has been at the pains to trace out the allegorical meaning of the narrative. The apostle is not now thinking of the national excision of the Jews; he is contemplating, not nationalities, but habits of mind—servile legality on the one side, and on the other faith accepting a free gift of grace. It is at their extreme peril, he in effect tells the Galatians, that they forsake the latter to take up with the former: God has shown that by so doing they will forfeit the inheritance altogether.
In the Greek text of this verse, taken in connection with the first of the next chapter, there is a great diversity of readings. The following are the forms in which it is presented by the principal editors:—
(1) Textus Receptus: Ἄρα ἀδελφοί οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ οὖν ᾗ Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεθε.
(2) L. T. Tr., Meyer, Revisers, W. and H.: θέρας. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ κ.τ.λ..
(3) Ellicott: Διό, ἀδελφοί οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ᾖ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε στήκετε οὖν καὶ κ.τ.λ..
(4) Lightfoot: Διό ἀδελφοί οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας τῇ ἐλευθεριᾴ ᾖ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε στήκετε οὖν καὶ κ.τ.λ..
The following are the probable translations of these several forms of the text:—
(1) "Therefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman: stand fast then in [or, 'by,' or, 'to'] the freedom with which Christ set us free; and do not again get held in a yoke of bondage."
(2) "Wherefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman: with freedom did Christ set us free; stand fast, then," etc.
(3) "Wherefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman; in the freedom with which Christ set us free stand fast, then, and," etc.
(4) "Wherefore, brethren, we are not a hand maid's children, but children of the free woman by [i.e. 'by virtue of'] the freedom [or, 'children of her who is free with that free dora'] with which Christ set us free; stand fast, then, and," etc. It will be seen by the above that there appears a general agreement among recent editors of the Greek text upon three points:
(1) they all substitute διὸ for ἄρα—an alteration which makes no difference whatever in the sense;
(2) they expunge the οὖν after ἐλευθερίᾳ;
(3) they insert οὖν after στήκετε.
The forms (3) and (4) are identical except in the punctuation. The construction of the dative ἐλευθερίᾳ with στήκετε in forms (1) and (3) is difficult, and has not yet been quite satisfactorily accounted for. We miss the preposition ἐν, to express the idea of immanence which is evidently intended, and to express which ἐν is elsewhere found present; as 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 1:27; Php 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8. The arrangement given in form (3) is, in addition, greatly embarrassed by the "then" standing so far on in the sentence—this particle marking, as it does, an inference from the sentence in the preceding verse. The furthest place in the sentence adduced by Winer ('Gram. N. T.,' § 61) is the fourth word, in 1 Corinthians 8:4. The fourth form presents by far the easiest construction. It seems strange, however, if this was the original text, that it came to be changed into shapes so much more difficult to construe. In the second form, the clause, "with freedom did Christ set us free," seems somewhat strangely phrased; but this iteration of the idea of freedom, marking the apostle's anxious insistance upon it, may have led the copyists to suspect an error of transcription, and thus have set them upon the endeavour to improve, as they thought, the text before them. The same anxious insistance upon an idea leads the apostle to a somewhat similar introduction of a clause which is almost a parenthesis, in Ephesians 2:5, "By grace have ye been saved." It will be noticed that the variations in the text above noted make not the smallest difference in the main contents of thought. The same factors of thought are present in all. The further remarks now to be made will assume for their basis the second form of the text. Wherefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman. This, διό (Receptus, ἄρα) gathers up the result of the whole foregoing allegorical exposition, not that of its concluding portion only, as a basis for practical remark. "We are not a handmaid's children;" that is, "It is not a slave-girl that is our mother." The article is wanting before παιδίσκης, not because the apostle is thinking, as some imagine, of there being other handmaids besides Mosaism, as, for example, heathen ceremonialism; for the context points to only one slave-girl that can possibly answer to Hagar; but because he wishes by contrast to fasten attention upon the character of her who is our mother. Hence also there is no ἡμεῖς or ὑμεῖς, as in verse 28. "But children of the freewoman," or "of her who is free;" not defining what individual is our mother, but, who our mother is being now assumed as known, marking what her condition is. With freedom did Christ set us free (τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε). 'This clause both justifies and explains the word "freewoman." Our mother is a freewoman, because all her children have been emancipated by Christ; and the nature of her freedom is likewise defined by the nature of his work. This sense is more directly asserted in the fourth form of the Greek text—"children of the freewoman by the freedom with which Christ set us free;" but it is in reality contained in the second. Christ's emancipating work was twofold: he at once, by his atonement, effected our deliverance from guilt, and by the manner of his death (Galatians 3:13) disconnected his people from the ceremonial Law. The former aspect of his work is essential to the beneficial effect of the latter. The clear realization of the fact that he has effected our perfect reconciliation with God cuts up from its roots all desire even, that we should ourselves strive, either to make or to keep ourselves acceptable with God by obedience to a Law of positive ordinances; while we also must see that, as connected with a Crucified One, it is impossible that we can be in harmony with the Mosaic ritual. A desire to Judaize cannot eoexist with true faith in our crucified Redeemer. By affirming that Christ hath set us free, the apostle points, not merely to our release from real or fancied obligation to obey the Law of Moses, but also to our "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation "(Romans 5:11). Stand fast, therefore. According to this reading, στήκετε standing alone receives its colour of reference from the context. So 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Here it means the steadfast holding to a whole-hearted assurance that in Christ Jesus our freedom is complete. And do not again get held in a yoke of bondage. The verb ἐνέχομαι is used (Herod., 2:121) literally of being caught and held fast by a man-trap; also figuratively of being entangled with perplexities (ἀπορίῃσιν, Herod., 1:190), with a curse, or with guilt, or with arbitrary dicta of a teacher (see Liddell and Scott). The condition of a slave is described by the word "yoke," 1 Timothy 6:1, Ὅσοι εἰσὶν ὑπὸ ζυγὸν δοῦλοι, "As many as are bond-servants under the yoke." And it was probably with this particular shade of meaning that St. Peter used the term at the conference at Jerusalem respecting the ceremonial Law (Acts 15:10)—"a yoke which neither we nor our fathers had strength enough to bear;" referring to it, we may suppose, as slavery, not merely because obedience to it was difficult, but as being observed from a legalistic anxiety to approve one's self thereby to the Divine acceptance or to escape the Divine displeasure. This view of the passage explains how the apostle was able to use the word "again" of these Galatian converts. They had been once under the yoke of an "evil conscience;" but Christ had come to them also, who were "afar off" in Gentile guiltiness, preaching peace, as he had come to them that were "nigh" in the Israelite covenant (Ephesians 2:17). But if they could not have "peace" and "access to the Father" save through conformity with Mosaic eeremonialism, then their "freedom" was forfeited; they sank back again into their former state of bondage. But see also the note on 1 Timothy 6:9. This exhortation to "stand fast" presupposes that they had not yet lapsed, but were only in danger of it (comp. the μετατίθεσθε of Galatians 1:6).
The Church of God in its minority.
The apostle now passes to a new phase of argument. He has used the similitudes of a testament, a prison, a schoolmaster, to mark the condition of believers under the Law; he now uses the similitude of an heir in his nonage. The Galatians are here taught that the state of men under the Law, so far from being an advanced religious position, was rather low and infantile. Mark—
I. THE HEIR'S POTENTIAL POSITION. He is "lord of all." He is such by birth and condition; and, if his father is dead, he is actual possessor, though he may not in the years of his minority enjoy his property or assert his complete mastery over it. This passage implies that saints under the Law had experience of blessings enjoyed by saints under the gospel, though their dispensational privileges were fewer and their knowledge far less perfect. There is but one inheritance in which the saints of all dispensations share alike—they are all "Abraham's seed" by faith in Christ Jesus.
II. THE PERIOD OF DISCIPLINE AND SUBJECTION. "The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a bond-servant."
1. The infantile period. The apostle does not refer to childhood in the physical sense so as to imply any weakness of understanding or immaturity of judgment, but childhood in its legal aspect. He refers to the lifetime of the Church. The pro-Christian state was childhood; the Christian state was ripe age in full possession. The heir in his nonage thus represented the state of the world before the gospel, when both Jews and Gentiles were under tutelage; because he had said in the third chapter that all, both Jews and Gentiles, were heirs and children of God.
2. Its discipline. The heir is "under guardians and stewards." This subjection is necessary to ensure that he should not misapply his powers or waste his property. The discipline is manifest in two or three respects.
(1) The heir is no better than a bond-servant, who is secured in food and clothing such as his master may allow him, but he has no more power of independent action than the bond-servant. He can do no act except through his legal representative. The guardian watches over his person; the steward over his property. The Law is here represented as filling this double place in relation to Old Testament believerses
(2) The heir is under training, for he is "in bondage under the elements of the world."
(a) It was a burdensome condition; for the Levitical ordinances "gendered to bondage;" "a yoke," says Peter, "which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear "—very exacting in its demands and ineffectual in the result. Every duty was minutely prescribed, and nothing left to the discretion of worshippers, as to worship, labour, dress, food, birth, marriage, war, trade, tax, or tithe.
(b) The education was limited to "the elements of this world;" to elementary teaching through worldly symbols—the fire, the altar, the incense, the blood-shedding—having reference to things material, sensuous, and formal, rather than to things spiritual. Thus the Church in its minority had outlines of spiritual truth suited in a sort to its capacity. The elements in question were "weak and beggarly," though those of the Jews were much superior to those of the Gentiles, because they were appointed by God.
III. THE PERIOD OF DISCIPLINE WAS TO BE TEMPORARY. "Till the time appointed of the father." The father's will was to be supreme in the whole transaction. The Church was not always to be under Law. The fulness of time was to end the nonage of the Church. Believers were not, therefore, to be always children. "This is a powerful battery," says Calvin, "against Roman Catholic ceremonies: they are to aid the ignorant, in sooth; but it was during the nonage." "Are Roman Catholics," he asks, "children or full-grown men?" It also condemns the Judaists for going back to "elements of the world," which had their place and use only in a condition of nonage. "Yet the pope and Mahomet have tried to bring back the race, free and of full age, to its minority again."
The fulness of time with its blessings.
This corresponds with "the time appointed of the father." The nonage of the Church was past. The world had arrived at mature age. A new dispensation was at hand.
I. THE FITNESS OF THE TIME. The new dispensation was no abrupt phenomenon, for it came at the fittest time in the world's history.
1. When all the prophecies of the Old Testament centred in Jesus Christ. When the whole economy of type had done its work in preparing a certain circle of ideas in which Christ's person and work would be thoroughly understood; when the Law had worked out its educational purpose.
2. When a fair trial had been given to all other schemes of life. Not only art and education, culture and civilization, but Divine Law itself, had done their utmost for man, yet notwithstanding the knowledge of the true God was almost lost among the heathen, and true religion had almost died out among the Jews. The necessity of a new provision was thus demonstrated.
3. It was an age of peace, in which the world had a breathing-space for thinking of higher things, in which the communications of the Roman empire facilitated the progress of the gospel, and in which the Greek language, being all but universal, was ready to become the vehicle of the new revelation. Thus the fulness of time was the turning-point of the world's history, in which Jesus Christ became its true Centre. Thus, as Schaff says, the way for Christianity was prepared by the Jewish religion, by Grecian culture, by Roman conquest; by the vainly attempted amalgamation of Jewish and heathen thought; by the exposed impotence of natural civilization, philosophy, art, political power; by the decay of old religions; by the universal distraction and hopeless misery of the age; and by the yearning of souls after the unknown God.
II. THE MISSION OF THE SON. "God sent forth his Son." These words imply the pre-existence as well as the Divine nature of Christ. The Son existed as a Divine Person with God before he came to be made of a woman. He was the eternal Son of God, as God the Father is the eternal Father. They are two distinct Persons, else the one could not send the other. He came, not without a commission, for the Father sent him; and he came to do the Father's will, and became "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." His mission was not the ransom, but the presupposition of the ransom, the possession of the Divine nature giving it an infinite value.
III. THE TRUE HUMANITY OF THE SON. "Made of a woman." This language implies the possession of a higher nature; for if the Son possessed no other than mere humanity, where would have been the necessity of saying that he was "made of a woman"? The phrase points significantly to his supernatural conception, for there is an exclusion of human fatherhood. The apostle teaches his true humanity. It is a significant fact that Mary is here called simply, not "virgin," or "mother of God," but "woman;" just as John in the phrase, "the Word became flesh," ignores the virgin-mother. There is nothing in Scripture to sanction the Mariolatry of the Church of Rome. The incarnation of the Lord is here represented as the deed of God the Father, as it is elsewhere spoken of as the Redeemer's own act (2 Corinthians 8:9). Without his sharing in our humanity he could possess neither the natural nor the legal union with his people which is presupposed in his representative character. Thus he becomes the second Man of the human race, or the last Adam.
IV. HIS PLACE UNDER LAW FOR MAN. "Made under the Law." This clause affirms that he was made under the Law for the sake of those under Law, and therefore not from any personal obligation of his own. We were born under Law as creatures; he took his place under Law for the ends of suretyship. The phrase does not signify merely that he was born a Jew. His subjection to the Law, as well as his mission, was in order to our redemption; the one was the way to the other, as appears from the particle which connects the last clause of the fourth verse with the first clause of the fifth. Both Jews and Gentiles were under Law as the condition of lifo by the fact of birth (Romans 2:14; Romans 3:9). The meaning of the phrase is that he placed himself under Law with a view to that meritorious obedience by which we are accounted righteous (Romans 5:19). Thus he fulfilled all the claims of the Law for us, both as to precept and penalty.
V. THE DESIGN OF THE MISSION OF THE SON. "To redeem them that were under the Law." His object was to redeem both Jews and Gentiles from the curse of the Law, and from subjection to it. He was visited with the penal consequences of sin, with its curse and wages (Galatians 3:13), from the day he entered into humanity by incarnation. The deliverance wrought for us was the result of purchase. Thus we are entitled to regard the cross of Christ as the fulfilment of the Law, the expiation of sin, the ransom of the Church, the sacrificial blood which brings us near to God in worship.
VI. THE ULTIMATE RESULT OF THE REDEMPTION. "That we should receive the adoption of sons." This does not mean sonship, but son-position. Believers were even in Old Testament times true sons of God, but they were treated as servants. [Now they emerge into the true condition of sons. The adoption has three foundations. It is by free sovereign grace; for "we are predestinated to the adoption of children" (Ephesians 1:6). It is by incarnation, according to the text; it is by resurrection. Jesus, the Son, is the Form, the Fountain-head, the Fulness from which they all proceed. We are chosen to be sons in him who is the eternal Son; we are regenerated by his Spirit; the basis and example of the work of sanctification is the Son of God, born into our nature by the same Spirit; and "the resurrection of the just," which the apostle himself strives to attain (Philippians 3:11), and which is limited to the "sons of God" (Luke 20:36), has its type in Jesus, the First-begotten from the dead.
The evidence of sonship.
"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." The presence of the Spirit was the witness of their sonship (Romans 8:15).
I. THE MISSION OF THE SPIRIT. "God sent forth the Spirit of his Son." Here are the three Persons of the blessed Trinity. "God manifests himself in the Son, but communicates his life by the Holy Ghost" (Oosterzee).
1. He is called the "Spirit of his Son," just as he is called the "Spirit of the Father." The title applies to the Son, not in his Messiahship, but in his Godhead. He is often described as the Spirit of Christ; and, if that were all, it might imply that he is simply related to Christ in his office as Mediator, either given to Christ or given by Christ. But he is called the Spirit of God's Son, which is not a title derived by Christ from his office, but from necessary and eternal relation. It cannot be supposed that he is the Spirit of the Father in one sense and to one effect, and the Spirit of the Son, who is also God, in another sense and to another effect. It is this eternal and necessary relation which is the ground of his coming forth in the free interpositions and covenant operations of his grace.
2. The mission of the Spirit. Just as in the fulness of time the Son was sent forth, so in the fulness of time the Spirit was sent forth to apply and witness the redemption purchased by Christ. It is the Spirit who unites us to Christ in our effectual calling, and makes us "sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
3. The sphere of his operations. "In your hearts." It is thus an inward, sanctifying, saving work; for it has its seat in the heart, in which the habits of grace are implanted, and out of which are all the issues of life. "I will put my Spirit within them."
II. THE OFFICE WHICH THE SPIRIT PERFORMS IN THE BELIEVER'S HEART. "Crying, Abba, Father."
1. The crying is the earnest importunate prayer of the the believer, of which he is the organ and the Spirit the agent. The intensity of feeling in prayer is due to the Holy Spirit, who enables us to realize our need and the fulness of supply in Christ Jesus.
2. The cry finds voice in the tender accents of "Abba, Father." The two words—one Aramaic, and the other Greek—are a fitting type of the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ. The dearest conception in Christianity is the fatherhood of God. The believer is enabled by the Spirit of the Son to realize the tenderness as well as the dignity of the new relation in which he stands by adoption.
III. THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER. "Wherefore thou art no more a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Thus the apostle corroborates the closing verse of the third chapter: "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." The slave is not an heir; the son enters on his father's inheritance, which comes to him, not by merit, but by promise.
An appeal to the Gentile Galatians.
"Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods." The apostle here seems to turn to the Gentile portion of the Church, and impresses upon them the folly of placing themselves under the yoke of Mosaic Law.
1. CONSIDER THEIR FORMER IGNORANCE OF GOD. "When ye knew not God." The apostle gives no hint here of that self-satisfied agnosticism of our day, which says either we cannot or we do not know anything of God, but simply asserts the fact that they did not as Gentiles know God. God is not unknowable. The apostle explains, in the first chapter of Romans, how the knowledge of God died out of the minds of men. It occurred through a deliberate perversion of the moral powers of man. They knew not God, and were thus in a terrible sense "without God in the world." Yet they were not without religion. Religion is a necessity of man's nature, and hence its universality. It may be dimmed by superstition and ignorance and sin; it may be left to rust by disuse, till it has all but disappeared; yet it is never wholly lost.
II. CONSIDER THE SUPERSTITION THAT WAS BUILT UPON THIS IGNORANCE. "Ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods."
1. The objects of their superstitious worship were no gods. He says elsewhere they were demons: the gods had no real existence. They were either evil spirits or dead men, or the lights of heaven deified by human ignorance and folly. It is fearful to think of the widespread delusions of the heathen.
2. Their worship was a degrading bondage. It was full of labour and fear and suffering. "The bondage of the Jews was pedagogic; the bondage of the Gentiles was more wretched, for they did not know God at all." The Gentile bondage was terrible with its sacrifices, its mutilations, its orgies, its cruelties. It degraded the mind, fettered the imagination, cramped the heart, of its votaries.
A protest against relapse.
"But now, after having known God, or rather were being known of God, how are you turning again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"
I. MARK THEIR NEW POSITION OF KNOWLEDGE AND PRIVILEGE. The Galatians had come to know God through the preaching of the gospel.
1. This was their high privilege. "This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
2. It was a sign of Divine fellowship. "I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."
3. It came through Christ. "No man knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever he will reveal him." But there is another side to this truth. They were "rather known of God," as if to obviate any possible inference that the reconciliation implied in this knowledge may have been the effect of man's action. It was an affectionate and interested knowledge on God's part which made knowledge of God possible on their part. "In thy light shall we see light." God knew them ere they knew him.
II. THE INCONSISTENCY OF A RETURN TO WEAK AND BEGGARLY ELEMENTS. They had been slaves to the "elements" under the forms of heathen idolatry; they were now going back into bondage to elements under the form of Judaism.
1. This threatened relapse implied that they had no true understanding or appreciation of the simple gospel of salvation. The seeds of defection and apostasy lie in almost every heart.
2. The apostle's surprise at their inconsistency: arising partly from his knowledge of their full and cordial reception of the gospel at the beginning, and partly out of the character of the religion for which they were parting with "the truth of the gospel"—''weak and beggarly elements." This language of contempt applies to the legal rites of the ceremonial Law, which were, of course, of Divine appointment, and as such to be regarded with due honour. But the elements became "weak and beggarly" by their misapplication in the hands of Pharisaic men. They were "weak," because they had no power to justify or promote salvation (Romans 8:3); "beggarly," because they could invest no sinner with "the unsearchable riches of Christ." The worshippers, after all their drudgery, found themselves none the better. The apostle might well express his surprise to find Christians going back upon mere elements which the gospel had for ever superseded.
The observance of days.
The apostle now gives a specimen of this bondage. "Days ye are observing, and months, and seasons, and years." The days were the Jewish sabbaths, with other times of religious observance; the months were the new moons, always exactly observed; the seasons were annual festivals, as Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles; and the years were the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee.
I. THE GROUNDS OF THE APOSTLE'S CONDEMNATION OF HOLY DAYS.
1. Not that they were not of Divine appointment. God expressly appointed them all. The Judaists, after all, had more to say for themselves than the Roman Catholics for their fasts and festivals, which were not appointed by God.
2. Not that Jewish converts were wrong in observing them; for he himself observed some of them, and there was a liberty allowed in this transition period of the gospel. "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). Thus the Jewish converts were in the habit of "keeping the days unto the Lord."
3. He condemns the Galatians, as Gentiles, for observing days which, as Jewish, had no relation to them, and most of which, as Jewish, applied only to the conditions of society in the Holy Land. The Galatians are accordingly condemned:
(1) Because they attached importance to ecclesiastical days, "like children who were in bondage to the elements of the world," suited, it might be, to the infancy of the Church, but no longer applicable to a state of spiritual manhood. Similarly in Colossians 2:16 he says, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."
(2) Because they regarded the observance of these days as essential to salvation. This was a still more fatal error.
II. THE CONDEMNATION IN PRINCIPLE STILL ABIDES IN CHRISTIANITY,
1. It cannot apply to the observance of the Lord's day, because
(1) the apostle has not such a day in his thoughts at all when he censured their observance of days;
(2) because, so far as we know, the Lord's day was a fully accepted observance in the Church from the very first, both by Jews and Gentiles;
(3) because a day of rest existed before the establishment of the Jewish economy, and could not, therefore, be affected by the downfall of Judaism.
2. It cannot apply to the case of individuals voluntarily observing days of fasting and thanksgiving for their own spiritual edification, while they do not attempt to make them obligatory on others.
3. It cannot apply to the right of the Church, by its own authority, to appoint such days of fasting or thanksgiving as public emergencies may suggest as necessary to the highest interests of man. This idea excludes the thought of any special holiness attaching to the day itself.
4. But it does condemn the appointment by the Church of stated and permanent days which take their place, as a religious service, with all the regularity of the weekly sabbath itself. The apostle displaces all the Jewish days of observance without exception as belonging "to the rudiments of the world," and allows to the Gentiles no day of regularly appointed worship but the Christian sabbath. The tendency of holy days is, not to spiritualize the week, but rather to secularize the sabbath. This, at least, is manifest in Roman Catholic countries.
The apostle's apprehensions for his converts.
"I am apprehensive of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."
I. THE GALATIANS COST THE APOSTLE MUCH LABOUR. He was their spiritual father; he had paid them a second visit which was full of effort and anxiety; and this Epistle represented effort and anxiety in a very extreme form. The apostle never spared himself. He laboured more abundantly than all the apostles.
II. HIS UNCERTAINTY AND CONCERN FOR THEM. It was doubtful whether he would succeed after all in repelling the attack of the Judaists and rescuing his converts from their injurious influences. But, though he labours in uncertainty, he works in hope. "Other work-folks find their work as they left it, but a minister hath all marred many times between sabbath and sabbath" (Trapp). Yet it is manifest that it is not his own interest, but that of his converts, which is his supreme anxiety at this moment of crisis in Galatia.
An affectionate call to liberty.
"Brethren, I beseech you "—as if he would redouble his tenderness to converts so dearly loved—stand in your true Christian liberty apart from the weak and beggarly elements of Judaism.
I. HE ASKS THEM TO STAND ON THE SAME PLATFORM OF LIBERTY WITH HIMSELF. "Become ye as I am "—free yourself from the bondage of ordinances as I have done'' for I also have become as ye are," standing in your Gentile freedom, that I might preach the gospel to you Gentiles. I became "as without Law to them that were without Law, that I might save them that were without Law" (1 Corinthians 9:21). He had abandoned the legal ground of righteousness as well as the ceremonial formalism of the Jews, and he now invites the Gentiles to stand beside him in this position of freedom and privilege.
II. THE QUESTION BETWEEN HIM AND THEM HAS NO PERSONAL ELEMENT WHATEVER. "Ye did me no wrong." Though they were led to deny or doubt his apostleship, he had no personal ground of complaint against them. The interest at stake was far deeper.
A retrospect with its lessons.
The apostle seeks an explanation of their changed attitude toward himself.
I. HE RECALLS THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS FIRST RELATIONS WITH THE GALATIANS. "Ye know how on account of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first."
1. His visit was not designed, but accidental. He was travelling through their country on his way to regions beyond, when he was seized with illness and detained so long that he found an opportunity to preach the gospel. Precious infirmity to the Galatians! It was an opportunity providentially created.
2. His preaching was therefore in a sense compulsory; a circumstance which greatly enhanced the enthusiastic welcome of the Galatians. His infirmity might not admit of travel, but it was compatible with a considerable evangelistic activity.
II. THE NATURE OF HIS INFIRMITY.
1. It was sharp physical distress. (2 Corinthians 12:1-47.)
2. It must have been humiliating to himself; for it was designed as a check to spiritual pride: "Lest I should be exalted above measure."
3. It must have been a severe trial to a man with such sleepless zeal; for it threatened to hinder his activity as an apostle.
4. It could not be concealed from others.
5. It had a tendency to cause loathing in those who had intercourse with him. Perhaps it accounted for "his speech being contemptible" and "his presence weak."
6. It was chronic. It is impossible to know what it was, though learned opinion gravitates between the theory of falling sickness and that of disease of the eyes. It had the effect, at all events, of checking him in his travels at a momentous period, when the Galatians became his debtors for the gospel.
III. THE SYMPATHETIC TEMPER OF THE GALATIANS.
1. They did not treat him with either indifference or loathing. "And your temptation which was in my flesh, ye despised not nor loathed." His bodily ailment might have led them to the rejection of his preaching.
2. They conferred upon him unusual honour and affection. "But received me as an angel of God, even as Jesus Christ." Angels are the highest of created beings, and it is good "to entertain angels unawares." But Christ is higher than angels. The passage implies the Galatian attachment to Christ, for they received Paul as they would have received Christ. "He that receiveth you receiveth me."
3. They would have undergone personal suffering on his account. "I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." An extraordinary mark of affection! But it is merely a proverbial mode of speech taken from the indispensableness of the eyes. "We owe more than the eyes of the body to those who have given us the eyes of the soul."
4. They had congratulated themselves upon their unspeakable privilege in having such a teacher. "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?"
IV. SUGGESTED CAUSE OF THE GALATIAN CHANGE. "So then am I become your enemy by speaking the truth to you?" The apostle refers not to the plain-speaking of the Epistle nor to the occasion of his first visit, but to a second visit which brought to light the incipient action of Judaist principles.
1. Enmity created by truth-speaking implies a grave departure from the truth. The truth-teller is disliked because he inflicts pain, but the pain shows there is something wrong within. People generally dislike to think that others know their particular faults. "Truth breeds hatred as the fair nymphs the ugly fauns and satyrs" (Trapp).
2. The truth-speaker is our best friend. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:6).
3. Think of the courage of the apostle. He tells the Galatians the truth at the sacrifice of their personal friendship and love. Truth was a more precious thing than man's esteem. It was the very truth of the gospel, with man's salvation hanging upon it, and therefore incapable of being betrayed or surrendered through any spirit of unworthy compliance or men-pleasing.
The tactics of the false teachers.
The apostle is naturally led from the thought of the Galatian alienation to speak of the seductive arts by which it was caused.
I. THEIR ARTS OF SEDUCTION. "They are paying court to you, but not honestly." They manifested an anxious zeal to win over the Galatians to their own party. They tried with fair words and fine speeches to seduce them, professing, no doubt, a deep interest in their welfare, as well as great zeal for the glory of God; but their motives were not "honest."
II. THE DESIGN OF THESE ARTS. "Nay, they desire to exclude you in order that ye may zealously affect them." They aimed at isolating their converts from the sounder portion of the Church that they might thus be led to throw themselves completely into the hands of their seducers. They wished to form them into a separate clique. The first object of errorists is usually to undermine the confidence of converts in their old teachers, and then to get themselves regarded as alone worthy to fill their place.
III. THE CHARACTER AND AIM OF TRUE ZEAL. "But it is good to be courted fairly at all times, and not only when I am present along with you."
1. Christian zeal must spring from a Christian motive—love to Christ, love to the truth, love to the souls of men. Zeal must be according to knowledge.
2. It must be exercised toward Christian ends. Not like the zeal of inquisitors, for the destruction of heretics, but for the glory of God and the advancement of truth.
3. It must be permanent, and not fitful, in its influence. "Always." There are many difficulties to check zeal, such as the perpetual antagonism between the Church and the world, the friction of human effort, and the law of the members in believers themselves. But the zeal of believers ought to be as lasting as the realities of religion are permanent.
4. It ought to be independent of external guidance or suggestion; whether faithful teachers are present or absent.
A tender appeal to his converts.
The Epistle alternates from reproof to argument and from argument to entreaty.
I. THE APOSTLE'S EARNEST DESIRE FOR THEIR GROWTH INTO SPIRITUAL MANHOOD. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again till Christ be formed in you."
1. Mark the tenderness of his address. "My little children;" implying
(1) that he had been the instrument of their conversion, he had "begotten them through the Word" (James 1:18);
(2) that they were still little children, with much of the feebleness and simplicity of childhood.
2. Mark his deep anxiety on their account. "Of whom I travail in birth again." The idea not being so much that of pain as of long-continued effort; it was a renewal to him of the birth-pains that accompanied their regeneration.
3. Mark the end of all his anxiety. "Till Christ be formed in you." This Peters, not to their regeneration, but to their progressive sanctification. The false teachers had tried to form a new shape in their hearts—not Christ, but Moses—but he aimed at the complete development of their spiritual manhood, at the fully formed results of Christ within them.
II. HIS PERPLEXITY ON THEIR ACCOUNT. "I am perplexed about you;" as to their actual spiritual condition as well as how to recover them to the truth of the gospel. If the apostle had doubts about the Galatians, they might well have doubts about themselves—a proof that faith may consist with doubts of our personal salvation.
III. HIS DESIRE FOR A PERSONAL INTERVIEW. "I could, indeed, wish to be present with you now and to change my voice."
1. A personal interview would necessarily dissipate many misapprehensions.
2. It might revive the old affection in its entireness.
3. It would give him an opportunity of changing his tone. He had been severe in his rebukes, but if present with them he might deal with them with all the softness and tenderness of a mother. "A letter is a dead messenger, for it can give no more than it hath." But the living voice can adapt itself closely to all times, occasions, and persons.
An appeal to Bible history.
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law, do ye not hear the Law?" The apostle makes a fresh appeal to convince the Galatians of the essential difference between the Law and the promise. The reasoning is conveyed in language of affectionate remonstrance. Consider—
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS ARGUMENT. The Law itself, upon which the Galatians laid such stress, showed that they were not meant to be under it. If he could prove from the Law of Moses that Abraham's children by faith were free from the bondage of the Law, no further argument was needed to show that obedience to the Law was not necessary to salvation.
II. THE ARGUMENT AS EMBODIED IN THE HISTORY. "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid, the other by the freewoman; howbeit, he who was of the bondwoman was born alter the flesh, but he of the freewoman was of the promise." Here we have:
1. Two sons of Abraham—Ishmael and Isaac, Ishmael being mentioned first, because he was born first. Abraham had other sons by Keturah, but they had no relation to the particular illustrations desired by the apostle.
2. Two different mothers—the bondmaid Hagar whom Sarah gave to Abraham that he might not be without offspring; and the freewoman, Sarah.
3. Two entirely different conditions of birth. Ishmael was horn in bondage and in the common course of nature; Isaac was born in freedom and against nature, when Sarah was old, according to "the promise." These are the simple historic facts which form the basis of the apostle's allegorical explanation.
4. They are Scripture facts. "It is written," as if to show that God's Word is decisive upon the question.
Allegorized interpretation of the facts.
"Which things are to be allegorically treated."
I. THE FACTS ARE CAPABLE OF THIS TREATMENT. The apostle does not mean to signify that the facts are not historical; nor does he mean to explain them away as if they were allegory like Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress; ' nor does he mean that Moses shaped his narrative in Genesis with a view to this allegorized treatment. It is more correct to say that the lives of these real personages were so shaped by Divine providence as to afford a striking illustration of other events or objects. The two covenants were prefigured in the Old Testament under the image of the two wives of Abraham and their seed respectively. There is nothing in the apostle's usage to justify the allegorizing methods of Origen and the rabbis, which destroy the true sense of Scripture. If we admit the apostle's inspiration, we cannot reject his allegorical interpretation of the ancient facts.
II. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TWO COVENANTS. "For these"—that is, the two women—"are the two covenants." Hagar and Sarah represent the two covenants in three important points of contrast.
1. In the historic origination of the covenants.
(1) One dates from Mount Sinai—"one, indeed, from Mount Sinai;" "which is Hagar; for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia." This was the covenant of Law, which finds its true representative in the religious attitude of "the Jerusalem which now is."
(2) The other dates from the promise made by God to Abraham. This was the covenant of promise, which finds its representative in "the Jerusalem which is above"—the ideal metropolis of Christ's kingdom, "the heavenly Jerusalem."
2. In their religious effects.
(1) The covenant of the Law" gendereth to bondage," and answers to "the Jerusalem which is in bondage with her children." The apostle had already described this very bondage under the Law, under schoolmasters, under stewards and tutors, under "elements of the world."
(2) The covenant of promise involves freedom and corresponds to "Jerusalem which is free, the mother of us all," whether Jews or Gentiles. Believers are therefore "to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made his people free."
3. In their future expansion. Both Hagar and Sarah were to have large posterity, but Sarah was to have the larger family, according to Scripture prophecy itself. The original promise—"In thee and in thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed"—implied this pregnant fact. But a voice from Isaiah sets it forth in an impressive light, "Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not," that is, Sarah, or the Abrahamic covenant; "break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she" (Hagar) "which bath the husband" (Abraham). Thus Sarah was to become "the mother of nations." Thus Abraham was to become the heir of the world, and Jews and Gentiles were to enter into his wide inheritance. Verses 28-31.—Conclusion of the whole matter. The apostle points to a further coincidence between the type and the antitype.
I. MARK THE HISTORIC FACT. "He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit." He refers to Ishmael's mockery of Isaac. As the elder son, with the right of primogeniture, he ridiculed the feast given in honour of Isaac as the heir. The spirit of persecution was in that mockery that sprang out of jealousy and ill feeling.
II. MARK ITS ALLEGORIC SIGNIFICANCE. "Even so it is now." The persecutors of Paul were Judaists "born after the flesh," for they claimed to inherit the blessings of the covenant by virtue of carnal ordinances. They were adroit in all the arts of cruel mockery. Scripture tells the vivid story of persecution directed against the Christianity of the first age by the fanaticism of the Jews. The apostle might well say in his first epistolary writing concerning the Jews, "who both killed the Lord Jesus, and the prophets, and drove out us; and please not God, and are contrary to all men" (1 Thessalonians 2:15).
III. THE INHERITANCE AN EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION. "Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall in no wise be heir with the son of the freewoman." The apostle adopts the words of Sarah addressed to Abraham; not giving any hint of the nearness of the destruction of Jerusalem and its whole ecclesiastical polity, but emphasizing the importance of the Galatians standing clear of the doomed system. As there could be no joint heirship between Ishmael and Isaac, so there could be no fusion or amalgamation of Law and gospel. Judaism could not be combined with Christianity. It was to be utterly cast out, though it then tenaciously held its ground side by side with Christianity even within the Church of God itself.
IV. INFERENCE FROM THIS WHOLE ALLEGORIC LESSON. "So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free." "We, as Isaac was, are children of promise." Let us, therefore, recognize our true position with its blessed immunities and privileges. Let us forsake the dangerous fellowship of those who are children of the bondwoman. The Galatian tendency was false and evil; for it involved their losing what they had and getting nothing better in its place. Their true attitude was that of freedom.
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
Majority through the gospel.
Paul, having spoken of the Law-school in the preceding sections, and of the participation of believing Gentiles in the privileges of the Abrahamic family, proceeds in the present section to speak of the times before Christ's advent as infantile, of the advent as the fulness of times, and of the majority which is realized by believers through the gospel. Four leading thoughts are thus presented.
I. THE IMPERFECT TIMES. (Galatians 4:1-48.) The Old Testament times represent the experience of all men before the reception of the gospel. They were the minority of humanity. The soul was then like a child who is placed under stewards and guardians, and is not allowed to take charge of itself. It lived by law and rule, and had not entered upon proper self government and independence. Now, all the world was in this legal condition as well as the Jews. Nay, we are all before conversion in it; we are legalists by nature, we do what is prescribed with more or less fidelity, and congratulate ourselves upon the doing of it. It is the "infantile" stage. It is the imperfect times, as contrasted with the riper experience the gospel brings. And yet it is better that the soul should be at the school of Law than wandering waywardly after its own devices. Better be under restraint than be utterly spoiled by getting our own way. We ought not to under-estimate the discipline which the Law-school secured.
II. THE ADVENT OF THE SON. (Galatians 4:4, Galatians 4:5.) It was Christ's coming which brought in the fulness of times. He came to put an end to the world's minority and to secure the world's redemption. He did so by being "born of a woman," by being "born under the Law," and undertaking all his brethren's responsibilities. Having obeyed the Law in its penalty of death for disobedience as well as in its precepts, he redeemed men from the condemning power of Law, and secured their adoption as sons. The world at the advent of the Son must have looked differently to the eye of God the Father. For milleniums he had been looking anxiously down to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. But, alas! the verdict had to be that "they are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalms 14:2, Psalms 14:3). But at the advent of Christ a new example presented itself, a new type arose—a sinless Being appeared upon the stage, with all the interest around him of sinlessness. A breach of continuity took place when the babe was born in Bethlehem. Instead of the world being now condemned wholesale, it possessed for the Divine mind a deep attraction. The drama of sinlessness amid temptation was being carried on, and a repulsive world became the centre of moral and spiritual power. A new age thus dawned upon humanity. Man's minority was over and his inheritance was at hand.
III. THE ADVENT OF THE SPIRIT. (Galatians 4:6.) The magnificent panorama of sinlessness, however, might have passed impressively before the eye of God, and have given flesh interest to the problem of humanity, without at all affecting men themselves. But the advent of the Spirit secured men in their spiritual inheritance. The cry of the human heart, which had been so indefinite before, became definite and pathetic. It became the cry of children who had learned at last to feel at home with God. The converted Jew and the converted Gentile began to cry to the one Father in heaven, and to feel "orphans" no more (cf. John 14:18). The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of adoption enables human hearts to look up hopefully to heaven, and to realize that it is no longer empty, but filled with the presence of an infinite and all-merciful Father, who desires above all things the welfare of his children. It is this marvellous arrangement of the advent of an infinite Spirit of adoption which ensures the reality of adoption, and makes all the sons feel at home. Poets doubtless wrote about man being "God's offspring" (Acts 17:28), but the fancy of the poet could only become a fact of human experience when the indwelling Spirit prompted the cry, "Abba, Father."
IV. THE HEIR THEREBY ENTERED UPON HIS MAJORITY. (Galatians 4:7.) The termination of slavish fear, and the advent of a sense of sonship, is what we call conversion. But we hardly realize at once the meaning of our inheritance. How magnificent it is! To realize that God no longer is angry with us, but looks down with ineffable tenderness as our heavenly Father; to realize that, though we have nothing of ourselves, we have become heirs of all things, and find that all things are being made to work together for our good (Romans 8:28); to realize that we are "heirs of God through Christ,"—is surely glorious! There is happiness when noble heirs reach their majority. What feasting and good will and congratulation goes on in the baronial halls! Poets sing of it, and artists paint the scene. But no joy of majority on earth can compare with the joy which attends the sense of our spiritual majority before God. The baron's heir is filled with mingled feelings if his heart beat true, for he knows that the condition of his inheritance is, alas! his father's death. He must be base indeed who can contemplate such a condition without emotion. But when the Spirit of adoption comes within us it is to enable us to realize that, not only is our majority come, but also our inheritance as sons of God; into this inheritance we may enter at once. The Father never dies, and his presence, instead of keeping us out of our enjoyment, consecrates and enlarges it to a heavenly fulness. "All things are ours, if we are Christ's" (1 Corinthians 3:20-46). May we no longer live as bond-servants before God, hut enter by adoption into the privileges of sons!—R.M.E.
The return of the legal spirit.
Having spoken of the majority which it is intended we should realize through the gospel, Paul proceeds next to speak about the return to legalism which had characterized the Gauls. Before Paul's advent to Galatia and his gospel message, they had been idolaters, but his preaching had brought them face to face, so to speak, with God. Into this Divine knowledge they had dipped, but, alas] it had only been a swallow-flight, for, after tasting the liberty of the gospel, they had flown back to bondage. They had skimmed the surface of salvation, and had winged their way back to the old legalism which had characterized their idolatrous days. Here, then, we have suggested—
I. THE LEGALISM WHICH NECESSARILY CHARACTERIZES IDOLATRY. (Galatians 4:8.) The philosophy of idolatry is a most interesting inquiry. Nowhere is it more succinctly set before us than in Psalms 115:1-19. The idols are there shown to be after the image of their makers (Psalms 115:8), and, conversely, their worshippers become assimilated to them. The stolid idols which the poor artists make are simply copies of the stolid life around them; and the worship of the idol makes the stolidity perpetual. It is the apotheosis of inaction and of death. Hence it will be found that idolatry can secure nothing higher than ritualism, that is, the performance of rites and ceremonies for the sake of achieving a religious reputation, and not for the rake of communion with the object of worship. For in the case of the idol there can be no communion of mind with mind or of heart with heart. The form consequently is everything and the fellowship is nothing. If there be no self-righteousness promoted by the ceremony, it promotes absolutely no interest at all. Hence the whole genius of idolatry is legalism. If men are not achieving some religious reputation, they are achieving nothing at all. Paul consequently was looking back to the idolatrous life of the Galatians, and carefully analyzed it when he recognized in it the expression of a purely legal spirit.
II. THE GOSPEL PROMOTES ACQUAINTANCESHIP WITH GOD. (Verse 9.) It seeks to bring about an interview with God. Paul's experience on the way to Damascus is typical. lie there became acquainted for the first time with Jesus Christ as his Divine Saviour. He there felt that it was nearer the truth to say that Jesus had found him than that he had found Jesus. It was true that he had come to know God in Christ, but this was the consequence of God in Christ in the first instance knowing him. Now, Paul's missionary life was to promote the same acquaintanceship among men. He wanted these Galatians to know God through realizing that God previously knew them. And he had hopes that they had entered the charmed circle of the Divine acquaintanceship. He hoped that they had experienced the truth, "Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace." This is the essence of the gospel. "This is life eternal, to know [i.e. to be acquainted with] thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
III. THE RETURN TO LEGALISM. (Verses 9, 10.) The false teachers had come from Jerusalem to preach up the virtue of Jewish rites and ceremonies. Hence the fickle mountaineers of Galatia fell into their superstitious observances, and fancied that, if they kept carefully the Jewish calendar, with its weekly, monthly, annual, and septennial feasts and fasts, they must hereby propitiate the Supreme. Accustomed as idolaters to the making of religious reputations, they could enter the more easily into the legal spirit for which the false teachers called. And indeed there is nothing so insidious, because there is nothing so palatable to the natural heart. To be in a position to achieve a religions reputation, to win by our own hands certain characters and certain rights, is wonderfully flattering and grateful to human pride. We need to be constantly on our guard against the temptation.
1. One way is by remembering how "weak," as Paul here puts it, the elements out of which we would manufacture our reputation are. They do not bear analysis. Once we touch them with honest thought they stand in felt helplessness before us. Ceremonies which do not lead to communion with God, ceremonies which are simply to add to human pride and foster self-righteousness, are weak as water, and can only harm us.
2. We should remember also how "beggarly" they are. They can minister no wealth of thought or feeling to the superstitious soul. They are merely the instruments of bondage.
IV. THE DANGER OF THE LEGAL SPIRIT. (Verse 11.) If Paul's preaching only resulted in such an outbreak of legalism, then he would regard his mission among them as "love's labour lost." There is no difference between the legalism of Judaism and the legalism of idolatry. Both are mere phases of self-righteousness. The gospel has missed its aim altogether if it leave people in legal bondage. The gospel is the great scheme for overthrowing self-righteousness. It emancipates the soul from the delusive hope of establishing any claim before God. It shuts us up to the acceptance of salvation as God's free gift. It deposes self and makes free grace supreme. Hence Paul's anxiety to see the Galatians brought back from legal bondage to gospel liberty. Unless they gave up their helm from ceremony, and betook themselves to hope in the Saviour alone, then they must be lost. It is most important that the exceeding danger of the legal spirit should be constantly kept in view, that we may maintain our standing on the footing of free grace.—R.M.E.
The appeal of the suffering apostle.
To render Paul's appeal more emphatic, he proceeds next to remind them of the tender relations in which he had stood to them when he preached the gospel to them the first time. He had been suffering from the thorn in the flesh; he was consequently a very weak specimen when as a preacher he stood before them; but the message was so emancipating to their souls that they would have done anything for him in their gratitude. They would have even plucked out their own eyes and have given them to him. Why, then, should they turn against him when he seeks to tell them the truth? It is consequently the pathetic appeal of the apostle to those who had once been so interested in him.
I. PAUL'S EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. (Galatians 4:12.) He wants the Galatians to be as he is, for he is as the Gentiles are so far as legalism is concerned. How did Paul act among the Gentiles? Not certainly as Peter had done at Antioch, in a vacillating spirit. He sat down deliberately at the tables of the heathen and carried no Jewish scruples into Gentile society. The ceremonial Law did not bind him to keep his converts at arm's length or to insist on their submission to Jewish scruples. He felt that Jesus had fulfilled for him all righteousness, and that he was consequently free from the ceremonial yoke. Hence with the greatest breadth of view and consistency, Paul acted the free and social part among the heathen.
II. PAUL'S APPEAL FOR SOMETHING LIKE THE OLD SYMPATHY. (Verses 13-15.) He had appeared among them in a suffering condition. The "thorn in the flesh," which bad been sent to buffet him and keep him humble, had manifested itself in full force. There is every reason to believe that it consisted in weak eyes, which never recovered the shock on the way to Damascus. But the weak-eyed, despicable-looking preacher (2 Corinthians 10:10) had got an admirable reception in Galatia. His hearers so sympathized with his message as to forget his outward weakness, nay, rather to so sympathize with him in it as to be ready to pluck out their own eyes and give them to him, if it had been possible. The poor preacher was in their estimation an angel of God, and was received with the same consideration as they would have extended to Christ Jesus himself. This was admirable. And Paul wishes them to revive this sympathy for him and lead them along the path of liberty he himself is treading. How deep and pathetic the true sympathy between pastor and people ought to be I
III. THE UNREASONABLE CHARACTER OF THEIR PRESENT ANTIPATHY. (Verse 16.) Because of Paul's faithfulness they are inclined to resent his interference with their legalism as a hostile act. But he would have them to analyze their antipathy fairly and to own how unreasonable it is. And yet this has been the fate of faithful men in all ages. They are hated because they tell the truth. The unreasonableness of antipathy to a man who tells us God's truth may be seen in at least three particulars.
1. Because the truth sanctifies (John 17:19).
2. Because the truth makes men free (John 8:32).
3. Because the truth saves (1 Timothy 2:4).
IV. ATTENTION MAY BE MISINTERPRETED, (Verses 17, 18.) The false teachers were assiduous in their attentions to Paul's converts. They could not make enough of them. But Paul saw through their designs. Hence he declares, "They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them" (Revised Version). It was a zeal to get the Galatians under their power; it was to make them ritualists of the Jewish type, and so amenable to their Jewish authority and direction. Young converts require warning against the designs of zealots whose prerogative it is to curtail Christian liberty and put the simple under bondage. Now, Paul had paid all sorts of attention to the Galatians. He compares himself to a mother who had travailed with them and would consequently nurse them with the utmost tenderness. He courts comparison between his attentions and those of the false teachers. He more than insinuates that they are receiving different treatment at their hands than they did when he was present with them. It is only fair and right that attention should be weighed in the balances carefully, and a selfish fuss not be confounded with an unselfish and disinterested enthusiasm.
V. A PASTOR'S SPIRITUAL ANXIETIES ABOUT HIS PEOPLE. (Verses 19, 20.) Paul had been in agony for their conversion when in Galatia. But their legalism has thrown him into perplexity about them. His agony, like a woman's travail, has to be repeated. He will not be content till Christ is formed within them as their true Hope of glory. He wishes he were present with them once again and were able by tender, maternal tones to convince them of the unselfish interest he has in them. The whole case is instructive as showing how painful is the interest of a true pastor in his flock and to what straits their waywardness may reduce him. A mother's anxieties should summon a pastor to an enthusiasm of affection for those committed to his charge.—R.M.E.
The children of the bondwoman and of the free.
Paul now passes from a personal appeal to an allegorical argument from the Law. As legalists, they are asked it' they will not hear the Law which in its history really condemns them as children of the bondwoman and not children of the freewoman. For such an allegorical interpretation we are content with Paul's authority, since he was inspired of God in his handling of Scripture as well as in writing additions to it. His rabbinical education would incline him to allegory; but we would not in consequence take any liberties with Scripture on the same track. Still, as we face the history as given in Genesis 21:1. with Paul's help in our hands, it gives a very interesting and beautiful application of it.
I. LET US CONSIDER THE CHILD OF THE BONDWOMAN IN HIS EARLY YEARS. (Genesis 21:23.) Ishmael, as the child of Abraham, had for thirteen years a happy and interesting life. He was the issue of a union promoted by Sarah in her own despair. Upon him the patriarch looked with all an old man's pride; and, had not God expressly forbidden it, Abraham would have looked no further than Ishmael for a son and heir. Hagar naturally played the haughty part before her mistress and despised the beautiful woman because of her barrenness. But as soon as Isaac came to gladden the aged pair, Hagar and Ishmael fell of necessity into the background. In due time there is the weaning feast. "Hagar and her son heard the merriment," says Robertson, "and it was gall to their wounded spirits; it looked like intentional insult; for Ishmael had been the heir presumptive, but now, by the birth of Isaac, had become a mere slave and dependant; and the son of Hagar mocked at the joy in which he could not partake." Now, Ishmael all these years was the type of the legalist who prides himself on his observance of the ceremonies. Just as the boy thought that he was son and heir by undisputed right and title, so the legal spirit imagines that in God's house his rights cannot be disregarded. In the pride of self-satisfaction he sees no rival in the house and is disposed to brook none. And yet a touch of fate will make him realize at once his slavery and outcast condition.
II. CONSIDER NEXT THE SON OF PROMISE. (Genesis 21:23.) But for the promise of God, Isaac never would have been born. He belonged consequently to a different order from Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of nature; Isaac was the product of grace. In this Isaac is the type of the son of the gospel, as Ishmael is the type of the son of the Law. Isaac is born to freedom, to honour, to inheritance; while Ishmael is cast out as the slave who has no recognized rights in the household. So is it with the free-born son of the gospel as contrasted with the legalists of Paul's time. The believer is God's son through the freewoman; he has his inalienable rights in God's household; he may be persecuted and mocked by the Ishmaels who are but bondslaves; but he is destined to keep the field of privilege in spite of foes and triumph over them at last.
III. LEGALISM AND GOSPEL FREEDOM ARE INCOMPATIBLE. (Genesis 21:24-1.) One house could not hold both Ishmael and Isaac. They could not get on together. No more can the legal and the gospel spirit. Self-righteousness and faith in Christ are irreconcilable. Hence the war between the legalists and the apostle. It was war to the bitter end. The principles are antagonistic, and the one must triumph over the other. And liberty is sure to triumph over legalism in the end, as Isaac triumphed over Ishmael.
IV. THE CONSEQUENT DUTY OF MAINTAINING OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY. (Galatians 5:1.) Paul calls upon the Galatians not to go back to bondage, but to maintain the freedom which Christ has given them. If he has fulfilled the ceremonies, why should they go back to the bondage of observances? If they are born as children of promise, why go back to the birth of bondslaves? It is like emancipated slaves insisting on surrendering their freedom. What the liberty bestowed by Christ is in its length and breadth may be realized from the close and climax of one of Liddon's masterly sermons. "It is freedom from a sense of sin, when all is known to have been pardoned through the atoning blood; freedom from a slavish fear of our Father in heaven, when conscience is offered to his unerring eye morning and evening by that penitent love which fixes its eye upon the Crucified; freedom from current prejudice and false human opinion, when the soul gazes by intuitive faith upon the actual truth; freedom from the depressing yoke of weak health or narrow circumstances, since the soul cannot be crushed which rests consciously upon the everlasting arms; freedom from that haunting fear of death, which holds those who think really upon death at all,' all their lifetime subject to bondage,' unless they are his true friends and clients who by the sharpness of his own death ' opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.' It is freedom in time, but also and beyond freedom in eternity." May we realize our rights as children of the free!—R.M.E.
HOMILIES BY R. FINLAYSON
Majority and minority.
I. THE CHILD COMING TO HIS MAJORITY. Analogy. "But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the term appointed of the father." At the close of the preceding chapter Christians were described as Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. It is with regard to this that the apostle now makes use of an analogy. It is a very simple and well-known case on which he founds. It is that of an heir, while he is a child or is a minor, as we say, i.e. has the paternal control yet exercised over him. He may be the heir of a kingdom; but, so long as he is in his nonage, he differeth nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all. He is better in some respects, but not better in respect of subjection to control. He is under guardians of his person and stewards of his property. When the Prince of Wales in his childhood on one occasion refused submission to his governess, appealing to his dignity as heir of the throne, Prince Albert very pertinently read him this passage out of the New Testament. The supposition is that a minor has not yet wisdom to guide him; his will therefore, meanwhile, is a cipher. He can only act through guardians and stewards, who are understood to carry out the father's will. This arrangement continues in force until the term appointed of the father. It has been a question whether Paul contemplates the father here as dead. It is enough to say that he is regarded as in the background, while his will is operative. In the case to which the analogy applies the Father is alive. Objection has been taken to Paul describing the limit of dependence as appointed of the father, when in most countries it is fixed by statute. The infancy of a Roman child ended at seven; he donned the virile gown at seventeen; be was not entirely emancipated from tutelage until he was twenty-five. There is this to be said, that the limit was not necessarily fixed by statute; that when it was so fixed it was in name of the father, and that there was discretionary power within the statute.
1. The Church's minority. "So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world." The minor here is generally supposed to be both Jews and Gentiles. But it is scarcely a Pauline idea that the heathen compared with Christians were as children compared with men, heirs in their minority compared with heirs come to full rights. Certainly their religions were not the rudiments which God taught them. The reference is to be determined by the way in which the analogy is introduced by the apostle. He points back to his description of Christians as Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. He must be understood, therefore, as pointing now to those who were formerly Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. These were the children over whom God placed guardians and stewards. The instruction he gave them was of a rudimentary nature. They were not taught religion in its perfect form (which is Christianity), but only the rudiments. These were true so fat' as they went; still, they were only religion in a form suitable for children. They were rudiments of the world, i.e. of the outward and sensible; for the world in an evil sense cannot be brought into connection with the Father teaching his children. It is by the outward and sensible that abstract truth is introduced into the minds of children. So, while the Church was in its childhood, God carried forward its education by outward services and sensible representations. This was inconceivably better than being left to themselves, as the heathen were; but it was bondage in comparison with the spirituality which was to be brought in with a full revelation. "It was a yoke," said Peter, "which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear." The amount of bodily service required by Jews, in their frequent washings and journeys to Jerusalem, was very great. And even the types, in their keeping back the plain meaning, confined the spirit. This was the Church in its state of minority.
2. The Church's majority. It is matter for thought that the Church came to its majority in connection with the greatest manifestation of Godhead.
(1) Time of the Christian manifestation. "But when the fulness of the time came." The fulness of the time was the moment in which time received its full significance. It was that toward which all that went before was moving, and from which all after-time is dated. It corresponds to "the term appointed of the father." It was the time appointed in the counsels of the Father. But the appointment was founded on the foreseen fitness of circumstances. It would not have been a fitting time, we may understand, if Christ had appeared immediately after the Fall. As the nature of sin had only very partially been manifested at the first, there would have been no proper appreciation of redemption. Neither would it have been a fitting time, we may understand, if Christ had appeared at the commencement of the Jewish nation. It would have been as if some high work of art were submitted for criticism to novices. Christ appeared when circumstances were so prepared that the deepest, most lasting impression of his work could be produced on men. Even heathenism was a preparation for Christianity. It was so chiefly in a negative way. It was, as it is represented in the Bible, the wild olive tree. It was humanity left to itself. It was an experiment on a vast scale as to what man unaided could or could not do. And, though there was a feeling after God, and weak longing for redemption, yet, as the result of the experiment, it was conclusively proved that the world by wisdom knew not God. When Christ came great Pan was dead. The old religions were manifestly powerless to impart any spiritual consolation, or to check sin which came to its full manifestation. The chosen people were sinful humanity with Divine helps. And, though they greatly pointed the lesson of what man could not do, yet there was not a little drilling of them into the idea of the Divine unity, the idea of an overruling Providence, the reality of sin, the conception of righteousness, the certainty and mode of redemption. and there were some who had so entered into the preparatory Jewish system that, at the time of Christ's appearance, they were waiting for the consolation of Israel. In the outward state of the world, too, there was a conspiring of remarkable providences: The whole world was included in one empire. There were facilities of intercourse between nations, such as had never existed before. The great Roman roads were the prepared means by which the gospel was to be carried to all quarters of the earth. There was very much, too, one language. With the victories of Alexander commenced a movement toward the general use of the Greek language, the most expressive of all languages. There was also a cosmopolitizing of the Jews. They were to be found in all the great centres, with their monotheism and Messianic hopes. And lastly, it was a time of universal peace. The whole world was quiet and at rest. The temple of Janus was shut. Such was the time chosen by God for the appearance of Christ.
(2) Manner of the manifestation.
(a) The Divine Messenger. "God sent forth his Son." The pre-existence of Christ is implied. God sent forth from himself—from his own immediate presence. It was not an archangel whom he sent forth, but his own Son. As the Son of God, Christ was eternally pre-existent—the equal in every respect of the Father. In the Son, the Father saw himself perfectly reflected. And yet he was in a mysterious way subordinated as the Son to the Father. To him, then, it essentially belonged to be sent forth, as on creation, so on redemption. On his part there was a perfect response. For, in the volume of the book of the Divine counsels it was written that he was prepared at the fitting time to speed forth to do the Father's will.
(b) His birth of humanity. "Born of a woman." Though unborn as the Son of God, he was subjected to the ordinary law of human birth. "Man that is born of a woman," said Job; and so also it was true of Christ that he was born of a woman, lie was not a separate creation from humanity, without father, without mother. But he was brought into the closest relation to humanity by having a human mother. Even from the first he was looked forward to as the Seed of the woman.
(c) His birth of the Jewish race. "Born under the Law." Historically he was connected with the Jewish race. It has been said that what the Jewish nation provided was the mother of our Lord. His surroundings were Jewish. lie was subjected to the rite of circumcision. He was placed under obligation, not only to the Law of God generally, but to the Mosaic Law in particular. It is not to be inferred that he was merely Jewish. For the singular thing is that, though brought up a Jew, in his teaching and life he did not give the impression of belonging to one nation more than to another. Still, the Mosaic system had authority over him, and had to do with his training as the Messiah.
(3) Twofold aim of the manifestation.
(a) Deliverance from the Mosaic system. "That he might redeem them which were under the Law." It is true that God sent forth his Son to redeem from the curse of the broken Law generally, and from the curse of the Mosaic Law in particular; but it is also true that, in connection with that, he had a subsidiary design to which prominence is given here. It was that, by his Son discharging all the obligations of the Mosaic Law, and answering its ends, it should no longer continue a burden on the conscience. And it is well to have this subsidiary design connected with the great sending forth of the Son.
(b) Instating of Christians as sons. "That we might receive the adoption of sons." "We" is to be taken in the wider sense here, as it was taken in the narrower sense in the third verse. The reference is Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. As these were, in the minority of the people of God, Jews, so now are they Christians. The design of the sending forth of the Son was to bring up the people of God into the position of sons. Not only does the time of his being sent forth rule the time of their becoming sons; but the fact of his being Son seems to rule their getting the position of sons. The Son goes forth, and it is sons he brings with him to glory. Such was the twofold aim of the manifestation. He proceeds to show how God did not stop short at giving us the position of sons. He followed it up by giving us the qualification of sons. The Spirit of the Son our qualification as sons. "And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Our qualification was the Spirit of his Son, i.e. the Spirit who was sent forth on the Son, and who fitted him for his work. He was within him as the Spirit of the true Son. In the darkest hour Christ conquered by being true to the Father. The Spirit proceeds from Christ upon us. He is also within us as the Spirit of the true Son. He draws us to God as our Father. That is the congenial element of his working. The word "Father" is the outcome. His is the language of filial confidence. His is the language of filial affection. His is the language of filial obedience. His is withal the language of earnestness. He is represented as crying, i.e. importunately calling. And he is represented as crying, "Abba, Father." The idea is emphasized by repetition. And it is expressed in two languages, Aramaic and Greek, strikingly showing the fusion of Jew and Greek in Christ. According as the Spirit of Christ thus dwells in us are we qualified and have the realization of our freedom as sons. General conclusion regarding heirship. "So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." He individualizes what he says by changing from the plural to the singular. Even the Gentile had not to pass through Judaism into the kingdom of God. The fact of sonship having been formerly arrived at is simply stated here as the basis on which a conclusion is drawn regarding heirship. If thou hast the position of a son, and the qualification of a son, through God's infinite love, art thou not certainly an heir through the same love? Thus it is made out that the people of God have attained to their majority. They have the heirship, not of mere children, i.e. without rights, but of sons, i.e. with full rights.
II. THE SON FALLING BACK INTO HIS MINORITY. So he represents the Galatians.
1. Their idolatrous past. "Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them which by nature are no gods." It was their disadvantage that they were ignorant of God. That being the case, it was not to be wondered at that they did service to idols. The religious instinct, if it does not find the true, will find the false. If we have not God to fill up the vacuum of our nature, we must have idols. These Galatians had done service to them which by nature were no gods. Paul's idea in one place (1 Corinthians 10:20) is that they were devils whom the heathen worshipped. They certainly were only Divine in their own imagination. They had not the nature of God; they disputed for power; they were not even moral. What bondage to be in error regarding the greatest of all objects! What fearful bondage to think of him as not only imperfect, but as swayed by the vilest passions!
2. Their relapse. "But now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known of God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again? Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labour upon you in vain." They had come to know God, i.e. when the gospel was preached among them. It was then that they first knew God in his unity and in his real character as a God of love. But, having said this, he corrects himself. It was rather that they had come to be known of God; for it was purely of God that the gospel came to them. They were not thinking of it; even Paul was not thinking of it; for it did not lie within his plan to preach the gospel to them. By a singular providence, to which he refers in the next paragraph, he was constrained to turn aside to Galatia. It was God, then, that had given them the advantage. The relapse from Christianity into Judaism as affecting the position of the Christian sabbath. How are we to understand the language which is employed in this place and in Colossians 2:16, Colossians 2:17? Are we to infer from the teaching of the apostle (for it is no more than an inference, and a startling thing it is to be left to inference) that, as Christians, we are relieved from obligation to keep sacred one day in seven? It is not unnecessary, in view of all that has been written on these passages, to guard against an understatement of the difficulty. For instance, it is said by Ridgeley and others that certain feast days, being withdrawn from a common to a sacred use, were called sabbaths, and that the apostle alludes exclusively to these. Unless the difficulty is fairly admitted and mastered, it is sure to leave doubt on the mind, and to be ever coming up for settlement in exegesis. There is really only one difficulty, but it is presented under different forms. The passages in question are similar; so much so that the same writer can readily be detected in both. There are two statements in Galatians, and these correspond to two statements in Colossians. Taking, then, the parts which correspond as one, we have to deal with two statements.
(a) There is a statement about distinctions of times. The statement made by the apostle in this Epistle is that Christians, by observing days, and months, and seasons, and years, were returning to bondage, and that, on that account, he was afraid of them, lest he had bestowed labour upon them in vain. In the preceding context his teaching is that they have the liberty of sons, and are not as under tutors and governors. It is to be noted that the bondage referred to was in making distinctions as to times. His order of classification is to begin with the more frequent and to proceed to the less frequent observances. There are first days, or weekly observances; then there are months, or observances connected with the new moon; at a longer interval are the seasons, or great festive occasions, of which there were three in the year; and, at the longest interval, are the years, in which the reference is to the sabbatic year and the year of jubilee. The corresponding statement in Colossians is that Christians are not to be judged in meat or in drink (or, in eating and drinking), or in respect of a feast day, or a new moon, or a sabbath day (Revised Version), on the ground, as given in the context, that the handwriting which contained these things has been put out of the way, being nailed to the cross. Under the head of distinctions there is a sub-classification having reference to distinctions in meats and drinks. As to meats, there were some that were appropriated to holy uses, and numerous prohibitions are mentioned in Leviticus 7:10-3. As for drinks by themselves, wine was forbidden to the Nazarites and also to the priests during the time of service. The apostolic teaching is that Christians are entitled to disregard such distinctions. The classification of times in Colossians (years being omitted) proceeds in the reverse order from the less frequent to the more frequent, beginning with the feast day, and ending with the sabbath day. What meaning is to be attached to the sabbath day will be seen; but the apostolic teaching is plainly this—that, as Christians are freed from the observance of the three principal feasts, and freed from the observance connected with the new moon, so also are they freed from the observance of the sabbath day. In reference to the passage in our Epistle, Alford remarks, "Notice how utterly such a verse is at variance with any and every theory of a Christian sabbath, cutting at the root, as it does, of all obligatory observance of times as such." And similar remarks are made by him elsewhere. But:
(α) In that view of it, the conclusion is a much wider one than can consistently be admitted. It is not merely that we are under no obligation to observe a Christian sabbath, or, in other words, that we are free to observe it or not as we see fit; but it goes further, and is this—that the observance of a Christian sabbath implies fault. We accept Alford's remark on the word translated "observe." There does not seem to be any meaning of superstitious or inordinate observance, but merely a statement of the fact. The view, then, is that the ordinary observance of a Christian sabbath supposes the making of distinctions as to (lays which are all done away with under Christianity. How, then, is this observance of one sacred day in seven regarded by the apostle? It is condemned by him as a bondage from which we need to be freed. Nay, more, it is held as affording ground for fears being entertained with regard to our very Christianity. "I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labour upon you in vain." If that, then, was really the view of the apostle, should we not have expected of him that, in his own practice, he would have disregarded all distinctions of days? But how does that consist with what is recorded of him? If we turn to Acts 20:6, Acts 20:7, we find what his practice was, upon which Alford thus suitably comments: "We have here an intimation of the continuance of the practice, which seems to have begun immediately after the Resurrection, of assembling on the first day of the week for religious purposes." If we turn next to 1 Corinthians 16:2, we find him issuing a general order to the Churches connected with the first day of the week, upon which Alford again suitably remarks, "Here there is no mention of their assembling, which we have in Acts 20:7; but a plain indication that the day was already considered as a special one, and one more than others fitting for the performance of a religious duty." If, then, the apostle thus recognized a distinction in time, how can he escape from the condemnation which he passed upon these Galatian Christians? Was he not in bondage in so distinguishing? and have we not reason to be afraid of him? It is either this or the conclusion drawn is too wide. And what are we to make of the consistency of the writers who take this view? They no sooner make out the language of the apostle to have reference to all distinctions of time whatsoever, than forthwith they search about for reasons for the observance of a sacred day. Alford upholds the observance of the Lord's day as an institution of the Christian Church, analogous to the ancient sabbath, binding on us from considerations of humanity and religious expediency, and by the rules of that branch of the Church in which Providence has placed us. And Frederick William Robertson says, "So far as we are in the Jewish state, the fourth commandment, even in its rigour and strictness, is wisely used by us; nay, we might say, indispensable." And further he says, "Experience tells us, after a trial, that those Sundays are the happiest, the purest, the most rich in blessing, in which the spiritual part has been most attended to—those in which the business letter was put aside and the profane literature not opened, and the ordinary occupations entirely suspended." That is to say, the apostle was afraid of the Galatian Christians for making a distinction of one day in seven; and yet the Galatian Christians were right after all. A modification of so wide a conclusion as is supposed is suggested by the passage in Colossians. It is there stated that we are not to be judged in meats and drinks; that is, we are freed from all such distinctions in meats and drinks as existed under the Law. But yet it is the case that, under the New Testament dispensation, there exists a distinction of meat and drink. For in the Lord's Supper we have bread and wine appropriated to holy uses and placed under certain restrictions. And, if it does not follow from the apostle's language that all distinctions of meats and drinks are done away with under Christianity, so neither does it necessarily follow that all distinctions of time are done away with.
(β) We are to understand the language of the apostle to have reference to Jewish institutions as a whole. It is not as though there had been before him the one point—Is it right to observe one day in seven? Then his argument would have been—The Jews did that; we as Christians are relieved from it, or rather are to be condemned, if we countenance such a distinction. But, instead of that, the apostle is giving a characteristic of Jewish institutions as a whole. There was a multiplying of distinctions in them, both in respect of meats and drinks and in respect of times. And what the Galatian Christians were chargeable with was their abiding by all such distinctions as were made under the Law. Nay, they probably added to them by adopting gospel distinctions or symbols as well. To circumcision they added baptism; to the Passover they added the Lord's Supper; and to the observance of the seventh day they added the observance of the first. It was a legalistic spirit which possessed them. They were making the gospel more complicated, more burdensome in its outward prescriptions, than the Law, whereas it is characterized by simplicity and freedom. No wonder, then, that the apostle was afraid of them because of their making so many distinctions. They were endangering the gospel; they were forgetting their privileges as sons.
(γ) We are to understand the language of the apostle to have reference to Jewish institutions in so far as they were Jewish. The sabbath was not a purely Jewish institution; it existed from the beginning. The essential idea of it was a proportion of time devoted to God in acknowledgment of his sovereign right to all our time. The proportion was sovereignly fixed at one-seventh, and there is reason to believe that it was fixed in relation to our physical constitution. Under the Law the sabbath, while retaining its original character, received certain ceremonial adjuncts. It was numbered among the moadeem, or feasts; and was, indeed, placed at the head of them. "Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be for holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest." The special services appointed for the sabbath in the sanctuary were these: first, the doubling of the daily burnt offering—two lambs instead of one, with a corresponding increase in the meat offering; and then the presenting of the fresh loaves of shewbread on the Lord's table. When, then, the apostle says that we are not to be judged in respect of the sabbath day in the same way in which we are not to be judged in respect of the feast day and in respect of the new moon, this meaning is plainly suggested—that we, as Christians, are freed from all the ceremonial adjuncts of the sabbath. But, more than that, there was a practical question as to the observance of what was called the sabbath as distinguished from the Lord's day—the observance of the seventh day as distinguished from the first. The connecting of God's time with the seventh was from the beginning, but it had been very much bound up with the Jewish ceremonial. It also came to be regarded as the Jewish day as distinguished from the Christian day; and it had a certain position as such during the period of transition. The apostle, then, may be understood as deciding for the Christian Church that they were under no obligation to observe two sacred days in the week. Now that they observed the Lord's day they were freed from the observance of the sabbath. But at the same time, the sabbath had a broad human aspect. This Christ declared when legalism was expiring, and not certainly as though the sabbath were expiring with it. He said that the sabbath was made for man. It lies embedded in our deepest nature. It is needed under all earthly conditions and dispensations; and is not certainly to be numbered, like the feast day and the observance connected with the new moon, among things Jewish, from which as Christians we are freed. Whether it is the seventh day or the first is matter of Divine arrangement for the time being; but underneath both there is the obligation laid in our nature, from which we cannot be freed, to devote a proportion of our time to God.
(b) There is a statement made regarding the transitory nature of ceremonial institutions in which the sabbath is included. There is not much difficulty presented by the statement in this Epistle, that ceremonial institutions are weak and beggarly elements. This language is to be applied to them in respect of their having served their purpose. They had been, with certain drawbacks, very helpful and rich in blessing to God's people. They may have been once so to some of these Galatian Christians, but, now that the Divine authority had been removed from them, now that the gospel had come in their place, to turn to them was indeed to turn to the weak and beggarly elements. So it was with the sabbath, or seventh day. It once had the Divine sanction. It once was one of the channels through which the Divine blessing flowed. But, now that it was no longer to be observed as the sacred day, now that the Lord's day had come in its place, to turn to it was to turn to one of the weak and beggarly elements. Nor is there much difficulty presented by the corresponding statement in Colossians that ceremonial institutions are the shadow of things to come, whereas the body is of Christ. That does not exclude the possibility of there being a sign to represent the substance, the reality, after it had come. We know that circumcision represented regeneration, the putting away of the sin of the flesh. And the Divine blessing accompanied it as the shadow of the coming reality. But when the reality came that corresponded to circumcision, it was put by Christ into the New Testament institution of baptism. In the context here the two ordinances are closely interwoven in the apostolic thought. "In whom ye were also circumcised" (the reference, says Alford, being to the historical fact of their baptism) "with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ: having been buried with him in baptism." We know, too, that the Passover pointed forward to a sacrifice to be offered for sin. And it was a nourishing ordinance as the shadow of the coming sacrifice. But when Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (and it happened at the very time of the offering of the paschal lamb), the great reality was put by Christ into the New Testament institution of the Lord's Supper. And so it seems to be with regard to the sabbath. It pointed forward to the reality of a rest in Christ, and as such it was refreshing. But when the reality came, and needed no longer to be shadowed, it was put into the institution of the Lord's day. And we have reason to think that it will remain there for us until its full disclosure in heaven.—R.F.
I. HE ASKS RECIPROCITY. "I beseech you, brethren, be as I am, for I am as ye are." Born a Jew, in accommodation to them he had taken up the Gentile position, i.e. in respect of freedom from Jewish ordinances. Let them, as brethren, show reciprocity. Let them give up their adopted Jewish practices and occupy the Gentile position along with him.
II. HE RECALLS WITH PLEASURE THEIR RECEPTION OF HIM.
1. Negatively. "Ye did me no wrong." He was free to confess that he had no ground of personal complaint against them.
(1) It was an infirmity of the flesh that was the occasion of the first of his two visits to them. "But ye know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you the first time." This infirmity of the flesh is not mentioned by name, and has given rise to conjecture, with which subjective feeling has mingled. When the Church was persecuted, it was supposed to be persecution. The monks supposed it to be carnal thoughts. Luther supposed it to be a temptation of the devil. The language plainly points to a bodily malady. Regarding the first visit of Paul to Galatia we read, "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Ghost to speak the Word in Asia." It may be understood that it was by means of the bodily malady that the Holy Ghost forbade his preaching in Asia and at the same time directed his way into Galatia. And it was while detained by the malady that he preached the gospel to the Galatians.
(2) His infirmity proved no hindrance to them. "And that which was a temptation to you in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but ye received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." That which was in his flesh was a temptation to them. It was something which made trial of them. While it did not wholly silence him, it interfered with him as a public speaker. It might have led him to be despised or rejected (the latter word, literally "spit out," pointing to a more active form of contempt). It is a wrong thing to despise any one because of what God has made him; but want of good feeling might have led them to turn his infirmity into ridicule; or their ignorance as barbarians might have led them to think that he was spurned of the gods, and therefore to be spurned of them. Instead of yielding to the temptation, however, and throwing contempt upon him because of his infirmity, they received him as though he had been an angel sent to them from heaven; nay, they received him as though he had been Christ himself. Their Celtic emotionalism came out in the reception they gave him. It gave, as we have seen, a peculiar vividness to the message. It was as though Christ had been actually crucified before their eyes. So it threw a peculiar halo round the preacher. They warmed toward him and heaped kindnesses on him, as though it had been the Master himself.
III. HE CONTRASTS THEIR PRESENT WITH THEIR PAST FEELING TOWARD HIM. "Where then is that gratulation of yourselves? for I bear you witness, that, if possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me." There was no more gratulation of themselves because by a singular providence Paul had found his way among them with the gospel. Their Celtic realism was gone. That realism had gone to a great length. If it had been possible they would have plucked out their eyes to have given them to Paul. This language seems to point to an affection of the eyes as the malady from which Paul suffered. This supposition agrees with the conditions. It was just such a malady as would interfere with his comfort and effectiveness as a speaker, while not reducing him to silence. It was just such an occasion as the Celtic nature would seize and work upon. To make the gospel messenger freer for his work, they would gladly have parted with their very eyes, to make up for his deficiencies. And it was only the impossibility of thus serving Paul that kept them back from the sacrifice. The thorn in the flesh, as following upon Paul being in the third heavens, and as pointing to something acute, agrees with the supposition of his being a sufferer from an affection of the eyes. Whether we interpret the words here as deriving point from a weakness of Paul's eyes or not, they are manifestly expressive of a very warm feeling toward him, which now seems to him to have fled.
IV. HE CONTRASTS HIS CONDUCT AND THAT OF THE FALSE TEACHERS TOWARD THEM.
1. His fidelity. "So then am I become your enemy, because I toll you the truth?" He had told them the truth on the occasion of his second visit. He had also been telling them the truth, with a certain sharpness, in this letter. That showed that he was no flatterer of them to gain his own ends. He did not believe in friendly relations being maintained unless on a basis of reality. Was it, then, a reasonable thing that he should be regarded by them as their enemy, as standing between them and their good, because he expressed himself according to the demands and under the restraints of truth? Was there any ground which could be stated for their change of feeling?
2. The dishonourableness of the Judaizing teachers. "They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them." He refers to the false teachers, whom, with a certain feeling of dignity, he does not name. They made the Galatians the objects of their zealous attentions. But they did not do this in a disinterested manner. Their object was to shut the Galatians out, i.e. to isolate them from Paul and the Christian circle, so as to become themselves the exclusive objects of the zealous attentions of the Galatians. They were thus mere flatterers, to gain their own ends. Instead of placing themselves under the restraints of truth, they gave themselves the licence of error. While condemning them on this ground, the apostle makes a twofold reservation.
(1) He is not to be condemned who makes others the objects of his zealous attentions in a good matter. "But it is good to be zealously sought in a good matter." We condemn those who would compass sea and land to make one proselyte. But it is to be borne in mind that the zeal is a good thing in itself. What is to be condemned is misdirected zeal. And what is to be commended is, not the want of zeal, but zeal intelligently directed toward the good, especially the highest good, of others. Let the soul be on fire with a desire to do good. Let there be a compassing sea and land, not to make proselytes, but to bring souls to Christ. And we are not certainly to resent, but to welcome, the zealous attentions of others in the matter of our salvation. We ought to be thankful that we are not let alone, but that there are those who care for our souls.
(2) He did not lay any claim to exclude others from seeking the good of the Galatians. "At all times, and not only when I am present with you." If others sought the real good of the Galatians in his absence, he had no feeling of jealousy toward them. On the contrary, he would bid them God-speed.
V. HE EXPRESSES A DESIRE TO BE PRESENT WITH THEM.
1. Affectionate address. "My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you." He addresses them, not as children, but, more tenderly, as little children, after the manner of John. He was not as a father to them (according to the conception here), but, more tenderly, as a mother. He had endured much in prayer and thought and service on their account. And he had thought that his motherly endurance had been rewarded in their spiritual birth. But it was as if he had been disappointed in them. And there was the recurrence of the same motherly endurance on their account. The object for which he endured was their spiritual birth. This is not thought of as the development of self, even of their true self. Nor is it thought of as a Pauline development, the accepting of a Pauline doctrine, the being recipient of Pauline influences. But it is thought of as the development of the Christ within them. Christians are those who have Christ as the Germ and Norm of their development.
2. Reason for his presence. "Yea, I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I am perplexed about you." He wished to be present with them, in the hope that he would be able to bring back the old relations between them. In that case he would be able to change his voice, to adopt a gentler tone, which was more congenial to him and would be more pleasant to them. Meantime, he could not be all gentleness, for his information led him to be perplexed about them. tie had not given up all hope of them, but the fears he had sometimes made his voice to grate on them, as it was not pleasant to himself.—R.F.
Allegory of Hagar and Sarah. To them that desired to be under the Law he proposes to read a lesson out of the Law.
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the Law, do ye not hear the Law?" He conceives of them as men who could not do without the bondage of the Mosaic Law, and he wilt read their condemnation out of the Pentateuch, in which that Law is contained.
I. HISTORY ON WHICH THE ALLEGORY IS FOUNDED. "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. Howbeit, the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through promise." The two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, had the same father. They differed in two respects.
1. Ishmael was by the handmaid, Hagar; Isaac was by the freewoman, Sarah.
2. Ishmael was born after the flesh, i.e. according to the ordinary course of nature. That there is not excluded from "flesh" a certain ethical meaning is seen from its being opposed in the twenty-ninth verse to the Spirit. Isaac was born through promise, i.e. through the Divine efficiency present in the promise, surmounting natural obstacles.
II. ALLEGORY. "Which things contain an allegory." By "which things" we are to understand, not merely those which have been mentioned, but the whole class of things pertaining to Hagar and Sarah. Allegorizing is explaining one thing by another. In this case there is the plain historical meaning to begin with. Upon that there is imposed a second meaning. We are not to understand that the apostle evolved this second meaning out of his own thoughts. But God really meant more than the historical meaning. It is true that God thinks through all history; especially does he make known his thoughts through sacred history. More particularly in his dealings with Hagar and Sarah he intended to indicate what his dealings were to be with others, represented by them. "For these women are two covenants."
(1) She represented the Sinaitic covenant. "One from Mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar." Hagar was an Egyptian bondwoman in the household of Abraham. To the mind of God, she represented the Sinaitic covenant. As Hagar bare children unto bondage, so the Sinaitic covenant bare children unto bondage. A remark is made regarding the locality of Sinai. "Now this [the thing] Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia." Mount Sinai is situated in Arabia. This country is inhabited by the descendants of Hagar. The Arabs to this day regard themselves as the sons of Hagar. It was a country with which Paul had been made familiar during his residence in it for three years after his conversion. Once, in its lightnings, and thunderings, and blackness, and darkness, and tempest, Mount Sinai had been made to body forth the terrors of the Law. As Paul had felt it in its oppressive blackness and ruggedness, it seemed to body forth sufficiently the despair of the Law. It was a fit locality for bondmen.
(2) The Sinaitic covenant answered to the Jewish Church. "And answereth to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children." The Sinaitic covenant answered to the literal Jerusalem that was then standing, i.e. the Jewish Church. What was true regarding the Sinaitic covenant was true also regarding the Jewish Church, which was its embodiment. The bondwoman represented both. The Jewish nation at that time was a mother whose children were born to pass under the Roman yoke. So viewed ecclesiastically it was a mother whose children were born to pass under a yoke more grievous than the Roman.
2. Sarah. "The other is from Mount Zion, bearing children unto freedom, which is Sarah. Now this Sarah is Mount Zion in the Holy Land, and answereth to the Jerusalem that is above, for she is free with her children." That, we may suppose, is how the allegory would have run if it had been fully drawn out. It has already been stated that Sarah represents the other covenant, i.e. the gospel covenant. And it may be regarded as implied that, as Sinai breathed the spirit of despair, so Zion breathed the spirit of hope. But all that the apostle does here, is at once to oppose the Christian Church to the Jewish Church. "But the Jerusalem which is above." Opposed to the literal Jerusalem, which was then undestroyed, was the spiritual and indestructible Jerusalem, of which even now we are regarded as citizens.
(1) The Christian Church regarded as a mother. It has three marks.
(a) It is free. "Is free, which is our mother." We are taught to think of the Church as our mother. We are the Church's sons, through the efficiency of Christ in the Church and its services. All our well-springs are in the Church. It is of Zion that it is said, "This man and that man was born in her." The Church of Christ is represented by the freewoman. We are taught to regard it as the home of freedom. We feel free in our covenant position before God, in our immediate relation to him, and in our glorious prospects.
(b) It has a numerous offspring. "For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for more are the children of the desolate than of her which hath the husband." This is a quotation from Isaiah 54:1. In the same prophecy (Isaiah 51:2) use is made of God giving Abraham and Sarah a numerous offspring. In this language the prophet makes use of Sarah having a more numerous people descended from her than Hagar. And what the apostle does in quoting it is to give the fact another application. The Church represented by the desolate Sarah is to have a more numerous offspring than the Church represented by the favoured Hagar.
(c) It has an offspring according to promise. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise." We are not certainly children according to the course of nature, or in virtue of influences that belong to our nature. We are children through the Divine influences that are efficient in the gospel surmounting great natural obstacles. We are miraculously, supernaturally born.
(2) An instructive parallel added.
(a) The persecutors. "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was horn after the Spirit, even so it is now." It is said, in connection with a festival in honour of the weaning of Isaac, that Sarah saw the son of Hagar, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. This little circumstance is referred to here, not so much for what it was in itself, as for its foreshadowing the bearing of the Arab tribes toward the Israelites. As the descendants of Ishmael persecuted the descendants of Isaac, so in the apostle's day did the Jews persecute the Christians. It was a well-known fact that they were the bitterest enemies of the Christians and were the principal instigators of persecution against them.
(b) Their fate foreshadowed. "Howbeit what saith the Scripture? Cast out the handmaid and her son; for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman." Ishmael could not be allowed to live in the same house with Isaac. He had to be cast out and was no sharer of the inheritance with him. So the Jewish Church and the Christian Church could not coexist. Jews could only be in the Church as Christians. As Jews they were cast out of the special covenant position, the stern reality of which was soon to be made evident in the destruction of Jerusalem and the breaking up of the Jewish nationality.
(3) General conclusion regarding our slate of freedom. "Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman." Exhortation founded on it.
(a) To maintain our freedom. "With freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore." We owe our freedom to Christ. And it can be said that with a great price have we obtained our freedom, that price being his blood. We are not, therefore, to treat lightly what has been so dearly won. We must show our sense of it by maintaining it in its entirety.
(b) To eschew bondage. "And be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." They had formerly been under the yoke of heathenism; they were not to put themselves under the similar yoke of Judaism. A slave who has been liberated does not voluntarily put himself into the hardships he has left. So they who had experienced the sweets of Christian liberty were not to go back to bonds.—R.F.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
The advent in redemption.
We naturally ask the question which forms the title to Anselm's famous book, 'Cur Deus Homo?' Why could not God effect his gracious purposes without the incarnation of his Son? The verses before us throw light on this question. Galatians 4:4 indicates the two leading points of the humiliation of our Lord—the personal and the moral. Galatians 4:5 shows the object of these respectively. "The Son of God was born a man, that in him all men might become sons of God; he was born subject to Law, that those subject to Law might be rescued from bondage" (Lightfoot).
I. CHRIST BECAME A SON OF MAN THAT WE MIGHT BECOME SONS OF GOD. "He was born of a woman" "that we might receive the adoption of sons." His humanity was real; he had a natural body and soul, and he entered the world by birth. His humanity was a humbling of himself (see Philippians 2:7, Philippians 2:8). It was the emptying himself of primeaval glory; the subjecting himself to earthly limitations of knowledge, power, etc., even down to the unconscious helplessness of infancy; the endurance of the toil, the weariness, the distress of a hard life, ending in that horror and mystery which we call "death." Consider how this incarnation of Christ leads to our adoption.
1. It is the secret of his influence over us. Attraction is in proportion to nearness. To influence a man you must descend to his level. There the power of sympathy is most felt. So Christ stooped to us that he might lift us (see Hebrews 4:15).
2. It is the source of his power to conquer our great foes, sin and death (see Hebrews 2:14). Sin and death chain us down from the glory of the Divine life. To conquer these Christ faced them.
3. It is the ground of his atonement with God. God could not welcome us while all right and justice opposed. Christ, as the representative Man and for his brethren as both Priest and Sacrifice, opened the way back to God (see Hebrews 2:17). Hence the great privilege—Divine sonship. He became as we are that we might become as he is; he joined himself to us that we, united with him, might rise to his glorious life.
II. CHRIST WAS MADE SUBJECT TO LAW THAT HE MIGHT FREE US FROM THE BONDAGE OF LAW.
1. He was born subject
(1) to the Levitical Law—as a Jew;
(2) to the social law—subject to his parents, etc. (Luke 2:51);
(3) to the civil law (Matthew 17:24-40);
(4) to the moral law—
not only to that pure morality which God and all holy beings follow, but to the definite precepts of morality which accompany the limitations of human life.
2. He was also subject to the penalties of the Law though himself sinless:
(1) to the shame and trouble of the world generally which he shared in entering it;
(2) to death, the distinctive doom of sin.
3. How does this lead to our liberation?
(1) By facing the death-doom of the Law Christ conquered this for us.
(2) By obedience to the Law he triumphed over the Law. The largest liberty is in obedience. The Law is made for evil-doers; it is powerless against the good. Christ makes his people righteous (Romans 8:3), and so frees them from Law.
(3) By rising from obedience to the letter of the Law, to the higher obedience of the Spirit, he leads us also to that freer service of love which is the emancipation from Law.—W.F.A.
I. TRUST IN THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD IS A PECULIARLY CHRISTIAN GRACE.
1. Christ revealed the fatherhood of God. Mohammedans think of "Allah" as an omnipotent autocrat, and Jews regard "the Eternal" as a righteous Lord, but Christians know God as "our Father in heaven." It is not that the idea of the fatherhood of God was not conceived before the time of Christ, for Hebrew psalmists found comfort in it (Psalms 103:13), and even Homer sang of "the father of gods and men." But
(1) Christ gave prominence and supremacy to an idea which before was only co-ordinate with, or even less regarded than, other Divine attributes; and
(2) he revealed for the first time the richness and tenderness of this the inmost character of God.
2. The fatherhood of God is to Christians a relationship of love and gentleness. God is not regarded, like the Roman father, as one who might be a terror to his children. The "Abba, Father" in the old home language—the language of the nursery—suggests the feelings of little children to their father, and may we not say their mother (see Isaiah 49:15)? The type of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven is a little child; a little child's affection for his parents is the pattern of the purest Christian devotion. Nevertheless, this childlike confidence does not conflict with the rightful authority of God. The father is not weak because he is gentle. The trust of love is an obedient trust.
3. From trust in God's fatherly love the Christian life grows into a habit of aspiration. The yearning of the soul for God is met only to be deepened and intensified, so that the Christian learns to press on ever nearer and nearer to God, the burden of his heart's desire finding utterance in the cry, "Abba, Father."
II. THIS GRACE GROWS OUT OF AN INSPIRATION OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD'S SON. Christ reveals the fact of the fatherhood of God; but the mere knowledge of that fact which we may derive from studying the words and life of Christ will not enable us to realize the spirit of trustful sonship. It is little to know that God is a Father if we do not experience the love and close relationship of his fatherhood. So great a change is required before we can do this that nothing short of a Divine inspiration can make it possible. Indeed, it is Christ's Spirit in us that utters the cry, "Abba, Father." Thus the yearning of the soul for God is itself the result of God's visit to the soul. All aspiration springs from inspiration. Because Christ lived in trust and communion with God, his Spirit entering us enables us to do the same. He is the true Son, and therefore his Spirit gives to us the grace of sonship.
III. THE DIVINE INSPIRATION DEPENDS ON OUR RELATION OF SONSHIP WITH GOD. Though God is naturally the Father of all, it is not every one who can cry, "Abba, Father." The mingled trust and aspiration of such a cry are only possible to those who are sons indeed, reconciled to God and restored to the family home. The Spirit that inspires the cry is not given to all. We must be receptive if we are to receive it. The Spirit of God's firstborn Son is given to the true sons of God. The sonship, St. Paul teaches, is the consequence of our own faith, and the inspiration follows. Therefore the consciousness of trustful aspiration towards God as our Father is a proof of sonship. The Spirit thus bears witness with our spirit that we are sons of God.—W.F.A.
The son and the slave.
The Christian is compared to the son, the Jew to the slave. The gospel brings sonship, Law inflicts bondage. The sonship of the new order involves liberty and heirship. Consider some of the privileges herein implied.
I. INTELLIGENT PRINCIPLES SUBSTITUTED FOR SPECIFIC COMMANDMENTS, The slave is ordered to do this or that without his master condescending to tell him the reason for his mandates. He is bound to a blind, implicit obedience. Nothing is done to develop his understanding and to help him to choose and decide on his own judgment. But the son is admitted to his father's counsels, and educated so as to reason for himself and to act on the dictates of his own conscience. The Law keeps men as slaves. It commands, it does not explain. Christianity
(1) enlightens so that we see the principles of righteousness, understand their inherent rightness and discern their applicability to specific cases;
(2) liberates by allowing us freedom to apply these principles according to our own conscientious convictions, instead of forcing upon us a rigid course of conduct.
II. LOVE AS A MOTIVE INSTEAD OF COMPULSION. The slave may hate his master and only obey in fear of the lash. The true son is above this abject, servile obedience. He has learnt to love his father, and from love to seek to anticipate his father's wishes and willingly to endeavour to please him. The Law commands, threatens, drives, compels. The gospel persuades and attracts. The Christian obeys God because he first loves God. The secret is that Law cannot change our hearts, while the gospel does "create a new heart within" us, so that we no longer need the restraints of Law, but earnestly desire to please God.
III. FAMILY FELLOWSHIP IN PLACE OF SERVILE INFERIORITY. The slave is kept at a distance from his master, holds an inferior position, and is excluded from familiar intercourse. The son lives at home in the presence of his father and enjoys close companionship with him. Law keeps us at a distance from God. Jews were made to feel a sense of separation caused by their Levitical system. Christians are brought near through Christ and belong to the family of God.
IV. A RICH INHERITANCE IN EXCHANGE FOR HELPLESS POVERTY, The slave can own nothing. All he earns and his very person are the property of his master. Sons are heirs. Law allows us to gain nothing—it is a hard master; but the gospel offers the richest gifts. Christians, being God's sons, become fellow-heirs with Christ.—W.F.A.
I. THE OLD HEATHENDOM. St. Paul needs to remind the Galatians of the evils of the condition from which they have been liberated. We are all inclined to gild the past with false glories, looking back with fond regret to its lost delights, while we forget the things that troubled it. Note three characteristics of this evil past.
1. Ignorance of God. The heathen were without the light, the joy, the guidance, and the help that come with the true knowledge of God. All men who are spiritually dead to God are thus heathen at heart. The heathenism that was congenital was some excuse for moral failure; for men cannot serve the God they do not know. Conduct which is pardonable in the ignorant, however, is inexcusable in those who know God.
2. The worship of those who are so gods. Man must worship. The monstrosities of heathenism are a pathetic witness to our religious nature, which, if it has not light for its healthy development, will exercise itself in the most distorted manner rather than be suppressed. But such religion is based on a delusion. The worshipper prays to what does not exist. So do all who erect their own notions of divinity and do homage to them instead of learning to serve the God of revelation.
3. Spiritual bondage. The Galatians seem to have been entangled in the toils of a mongrel religion, which combined the terrible superstitions of their Celtic forefathers with the immoral mysticism of their Phrygian neighbours. The result was a bondage at once of fear and of lust. But all heathen religions keep their devotees in subjection. Religious liberty is a fruit of Christianity.
II. THE NEW CHRISTIANITY. This was in all respects a deliverance, an advance, and an elevation. It involved great spiritual acquisitions.
1. The knowledge of God; always the first essential. We cannot trust, love, or serve a God of whose character and will we are ignorant. Any faith that precedes this knowledge is faith in the priest, not faith in God.
2. Being known of God. The apostle corrects himself. It was not enough to speak of knowing God. Though that was the first essential step towards the new life, it is not now the most characteristic feature of that life. We must not rest in the knowledge of God alone. Knowledge is not redemption. The further step is to receive the grace of sonship from God and the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ wherewith we breathe the aspiration to God as to our Father (verse 6). Such an experience shows that we are acknowledged by God—"known of God."
III. THE RELAPSE. Is it possible that any should consciously and wilfully choose to fall from such privileges as those of the new Christianity to such bondage as that of the old heathendom? It was important that the Galatians should see that their perversion to Judaism was essentially such a relapse. The startling point of the apostle's argument lay just in this—that, with the insight of inspired genius, he saw the identity of the religion of Law which his converts regarded as a more progressive stage of Christianity with their old discarded heathenism. At first sight it might appear that austere Mosaism could have nothing in common with corrupt Phrygian orgies and gloomy Celtic sacrifices. Yet the bondage was essentially the same. They had three points in common.
1. Their rudimentary character. Both were mere beginnings. Christianity had left both behind. The advanced scholar should not waste time over the alphabet; the graduate need not matriculate afresh.
2. Their weakness. For the purpose of creating righteousness and regenerating character the Levitical Law with all its lofty morality was as impotent as the impure and horrible rites of the old Galatian cult.
3. Their poverty. Both were "beggarly." After holding the pearl of great price, it was strange that any should turn from such riches of Divine love to any other religion which, lacking the wondrous grace of the gospel, was by comparison as a beggar to a prince. Yet all make this mistake who forsake the grace and liberty of the gospel for the bondage of rites and holy days and priestly authority.—W.F.A.
St. Paul considers the observing of days, and months, and seasons, and years as so gross an instance of relapse to the weak and beggarly rudiments that he fears on that account that he may have bestowed labour in vain on the Galatians. So grave a judgment on the observance of seasons may startle us if we do not consider what the apostle really is condemning.
I. THERE IS A RIGHT REGARD FOR SEASONS. The sabbath was made for man, and it is therefore good for man that he should make use of the one day in the week that is set apart for rest and worship. Clearly if other seasons, such as Christmas, Easter, the coming of the new year, the harvest, etc., can be utilized profitably, the recognition of them may be justified on good grounds.
1. The profitable arrangement of time. There is a time for everything. Christ did not utter his parables of judgment at the wedding least in Cana. We need time for worship. Though we should ever live in the spirit of prayer, we must still have distinct seasons of undistracted devotion if our religious life is to be deep and vigorous. It often happens, moreover, that what can be done at any time is not done at all. As it is well to set aside a definite portion of one's income for charitable purposes, lest too little or even none should be left after satisfying innumerable personal claims—though really if we love our neighbour as ourselves we shall count nothing wholly our own—so, while God demands all our time, and while any season is suitable for devotion, some time must be set aside for worship, or the busy work of life will absorb the whole.
2. The exigencies of public worship. The social requirements of worship make set seasons necessary when all the worshippers can mutually agree to assemble themselves together. The same principle requires definite places of worship.
3. The influence of association. We are all more or less affected by sentiment. Birthdays, wedding-days, and death-days, days of joy and days of sorrow, are chronicled in our almanacs, and the recurrence of them naturally raises sympathetic emotions. The same applies to the great Christian anniversaries, and the power of association may help us to profit by the lessons of the Incarnation at Christmas and of the Resurrection at Easter.
II. THERE IS A DANGEROUS OBSERVANCE OF SEASONS.
1. Regarding the mere observance of the seasons as a virtue on its own account. The means receives the credit due only to the end. Mere "sabbath-keeping" is no good thing. The question is, "What good do we do or gain through use of the privileges of the day?"
2. The idea that the holy season sanctifies what would be otherwise common.
3. Making the sanctity of the day an excuse for neglecting duty. This was the fault of hypocritical Pharisees in the time of our Lord. Charity was sinned against that the sabbath might be respected.
4. Treating the religious observance of the holy season as an excuse for irreligion at other seasons. How many in Roman Catholic countries seem to think that attendance at Mass in the morning gives an indulgence for attendance at the theatre in the evening! How many Protestants seem to think that cessation from business on Sunday shows so much respect for religion that all the work of the week may be carried on in utter worldliness! Surely it is best not to put up the shutters on the first day of the week, if this act is only a piece of hypocrisy intended to cover the sin of using false weights and measures and selling adulterated goods on the other six days.
In conclusion, let us remember that each man must draw the line between the harmless use and the dangerous observance of seasons for himself. It depends much on natural constitution and on early habits. If some Christians seem rather over-observant of days, those who with St. Paul regard all days, the sabbath included, as in themselves equally holy, are not to judge their weaker brethren, but to reverence their devotion and to be charitable to their failing (Romans 14:5, Romans 14:6).—W.F.A.
Labour bestowed in vain.
I. AN APOSTLE MAY BESTOW LABOUR IN VAIN. If St. Paul might thus fail, we are not to be surprised when we do not meet with success. We are not responsible for the results of our work, but only for the faithfulness of our efforts.
II. A TRUE WORKMAN WILL BE ANXIOUS NOT TO BESTOW LABOUR IN VAIN. Christian work is not mere treadmill drudgery. It is labour of interest, of sympathy, of love. The servant of Christ will be anxious, not only that he may be saved, though, perhaps, "so as by fire," but that his work may be preserved
(1) for the honour of Christ;
(2) for the welfare of men;
(3) for the personal interest occasioned by self-sacrificing toil.
If we care nothing for the results of our work, this is a manifest proof that our heart is not in it, and therefore that the work will be ill done. We must earnestly desire a good harvest if ever we are to be rewarded with the sight of the ripe golden ears.
III. THE PROSPECT OF FAILURE IN WORK WILL LEAD AN EARNEST MAN TO DO ALL HE CAN TO PREVENT IT. It was the dread of such failure that called forth the whole Epistle to the Galatians from St. Paul.
1. Failure, though in prospect, may often be obviated by improved methods, for we may be ourselves to blame for the want of success that we attribute to the stubbornness of the soil. It is a mistake to be wedded to any one method. The slavery of routine is fatal to success. New emergencies demand new plans. Beware of sacrificing the work to the machinery.
2. Failure may be avoided by more earnest efforts. St. Paul expostulates with the Galatians. He exhibits something of the long-suffering of God. It is foolish and weak and wrong to despair at the first lack of success. God despairs of no soul. If we were more hopeful and more patient we should be more fruitful.
IV. IT IS LAMENTABLE TO BE IN THE CONDITION OF THOSE UPON WHOM LABOUR HAS BEEN BESTOWED IN VAIN. They who thus fail are without excuse. All that has been done for them will rise up in judgment against them. How terrible to have been privileged with the ministry of an apostle, of a St. Paul, and, in spite of all his eloquence, his zeal, his self-sacrificing devotion, his inspiration, to make shipwreck at last! We who have the New Testament in our hands have that ministry for our benefit. If after enjoying the privileges of living in a Christian country and receiving Christian teaching we fail of entering into the Christian life, all the labour spent in vain upon us will condemn us. The responsibility rests on each individual soul. It is a delusion to throw the blame on the preachers. The highest influences, even up to the preaching of a St. Paul, will fail, unless we yield our own hearts in obedience to the truth.—W.F.A.
A friend mistaken for an enemy.
On his first visit to Galatia, St. Paul was received, so he tells us, "as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." He paid, it appears, a second visit to the province, and then the fickle people treated him with coldness and suspicion because he found it necessary to point out their faults and the danger of them, as though he had become their enemy solely because he told them the truth. This narrow and unfair conduct of the Galatians is only too common to human nature. The causes of it are worth examining, and the evil of it being detected as a warning against a repetition of the same egregious blunder.
I. IT IS SOMETIMES THE DUTY OF THE PREACHER TO TELL UNPLEASANT TRUTHS. It is a mistake to suppose that because he has a gospel to declare he must let only honied phrases fall from his lips. Jeremiah set up the prophesying of smooth things as the one sure test of a false prophet (Jeremiah 28:8, Jeremiah 28:9). John the Baptist prepared for the gospel by denouncing the sins of his fellow-countrymen. Christ uttered some of the most terrible words ever spoken (e.g. Matthew 23:1-40. Matthew 23:33). The Church has been too much pampered with comforting words. We need more preaching to the conscience.
1. There are unpleasant truths. Nature is not all roses and lilies; nettles and vipers exist. The page of history is blotted with tears and blood. There are many ugly facts in our own past experience.
2. The great ground on which the preacher is required to utter unpleasant truths is that we are all sinners. The doctor who describes the eases in a hospital must say much about terrible diseases.
3. The purpose for which it is necessary to utter painful truths is to lead to repentance. It is not done merely to give pain nor to drive to despair. The lightning flash reveals the precipice that the unwary traveller may start back from destruction. Until we know ourselves to be in the wrong way we shall not turn to a better.
II. THE PREACHER OF UNPLEASANT TRUTHS MUST EXPECT TO BE TREATED AS AN ENEMY BY THE VERY MEN HE IS TRYING TO HELP. This has been the case all the world over with the prophets of Israel, John the Baptist, the apostles, reformers in every age, and, above all, Christ himself, who was crucified simply because he told truths that stung the Jews to madness. The noblest heroes of the "noble army of martyrs" suffered on this account. It is well to understand and be ready for such treatment even in the milder form which it generally assumes in our own day. it can be explained, though of course it cannot be justified. It may be traced to the following causes:—
1. The influences of association. The messenger of ill tidings is hated for his message. Milton calls the bird that foretells "a hapless doom" "a rude bird of hate."
2. Misinterpretation. It is assumed that the preacher wishes trouble because he predicts it, that he has pleasure in humiliating us by revealing our faults.
3. A corrupt conscience. Men often refuse to admit unpleasant truths about themselves, treat them as libels and the preachers of them as libellers of the race.
III. IT IS A GREAT BLUNDER TO TREAT THE PREACHER OF UNPLEASANT TRUTHS AS AN ENEMY.
1. It is foolish. Truth is not the less true because we are blind to it. The revelation of its existence is not the creation of it.
2. It is unjust. The faithful servant of Christ, like his Master, will wish nothing but good to those whose guilt he denounces. He is the enemy of the sin just because he is the Friend of the sinner.
3. It is ungenerous. It is always a thankless task to tell unpleasant truths. For a man of kindly disposition it is a most painful task. Be undertakes it for the good of his friends. It would have been much more pleasant for St. Paul to have retained his popularity at the expense of the Church's welfare. He is an ungrateful patient who treats as an enemy the surgeon who hurts only that he may heal.—W.F.A.
The allegory of Hagar.
Writing to men who were unduly subservient to the Jewish Law, St. Paul clenches his argument with an appeal to what he regards as the typical meaning of the history contained in that very Law. This was an argumentum ad homines. It is important, when possible, to convince men on their own ground. Among believers in Scripture, arguments are naturally drawn from Scripture, Only it is necessary to bear in mind that there are different "views ' of Scripture; so that we must not be impatient if the dogmatic assertion of our own interpretation as Scripture itself is not acquiesced in. To many the allegory of Hagar seems to be an illustration rather than an argument. A reference to it is chiefly useful to move our sympathies. It needs to be preceded by solid reasoning founded on direct statements of Scripture. Thus St. Paul argues from the history of Abraham (Galatians 3:6) before making use of the typical significance of Hagar.
I. BOTH SARAH AND HAGAR WERE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF ABRAHAM. The very honours conferred upon Hagar led to her ultimate rejection from the home through the spirit of insubordination they bred in her. The Law was given by God. We must not assume that all things of Divine origin possess equal value, nor because a thing is only intended for some lower use and is set aside when that use has been made of it, that it is therefore inherently bad and cannot have come from God.
II. HAGAR WAS ONLY A BONDWOMAN, WHILE SARAH WAS A WIFE AND A FREEWOMAN. Herein is a type of the fundamental distinction between the Law and the gospel.
1. The Law imposes bondage
(1) to constraint and compulsion;
(2) to definite precepts and irksome details; and
(3) to the burden of past transgression and omissions.
2. The gospel brings freedom
(1) in forgiveness of the past and justification by faith for the future;
(2) in revealing general principles of righteousness and giving us liberty to apply them for ourselves; and
(3) in infusing love as the motive of obedience.
III. ISHMAEL WAS A SLAVE, WHILE ISAAC WAS FREE. The children took the status of their mothers. We enjoy only the privileges of the religion under which we live. The Law cannot develop liberty. As it is a system of bondage, all who follow it lose their freedom, whether they will or no. The gospel confers liberty on all who accept it-even on those who at first have not faith, or hope, or desire to be free.
IV. ISAAC ONLY RECEIVED THE PROMISE. God's blessing comes to the free soul. If we cling to our fetters we lose the grace of God. Liberty is the parent of innumerable good things, politically, socially, religiously. As we free ourselves from superstition and needless restraints we rise into the healthy atmosphere where the largest Divine blessings flourish.
V. ISHMAEL WAS FINALLY CAST OUT. The Law, having done its part, is discarded. The Jews lost their peculiar position as the central spiritual light of their age when their mission was completed. The tutelage of Law may be useful for a time, but to dwell in it perpetually will be to become ultimately castaways.—W.F.A.