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CHAPTER I. 1-5.
THE general view of this epistle plainly shows St. Paul's chief design in it to be, to keep the Galatians from hearkening to those Judaizing seducers, who had almost persuaded them to be circumcised. These perverters of the Gospel of Christ, as St. Paul himself calls them, ver. 7, had, as may be gathered from ver. 8 and 10, and from chap. v. 11, and other passages of this epistle, made the Galatians believe, that St. Paul himself was for circumcision. Until St. Paul himself had set them right in this matter, and convinced them of the falsehood of this aspersion, it was in vain for him, by other arguments, to attempt the re-establishing the Galatians in the Christian liberty, and in that truth which he had preached to them. The removing, therefore, of this calumny was his first endeavour and to that purpose, this introduction, different from what we find in any other of his epistles, is marvellously well adapted. He declares, here at the entrance, very expressly and emphatically, that he was not sent by men on their errands; nay, that Christ, in sending him, did not so much as convey his apostolic power to him by the ministry or intervention of any man; but that his commission and instructions were all entirely from God, and Christ himself, by immediate revelation. This, of itself, was an argument sufficient to induce them to believe, 1. That what he taught them, when he first preached the Gospel to them, was the truth, and that they ought to stick firm to that. 2. That he changed not his doctrine, whatever might be reported of him. He was Christ's chosen officer, and had no dependence on men's opinions, nor regard to their authority or favour, in what he preached; and therefore it was not likely he should preach one thing at one time, and another thing at another.
Thus this preface is very proper in this place, to introduce what he is going to say concerning himself, and adds force to his discourse, and the account he gives of himself in the next section.
1 Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead ;)
2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever.
1 Paul (an apostle not of men, to serve their ends, or carry on their designs, nor receiving his call, or commission, by the intervention of any man, to whom he might be thought to owe any respect or deference upon that account; but immediately from Jesus Christ, and from God the Father, who raised 2 him up from the dead); And all the brethren that are with me, 3 unto the churches of Galatia: Favour be to you, and peace 4 from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who
gave himself for our sins, that he might take us out of this present evil world, according to the will and good pleasure of God 5 and our Father, To whom be glory for ever and ever.
1 Oun an aveρшwv, "not of men," i. e. not sent by men at their pleasure, or by their authority; not instructed by men what to say or do, as we see Timothy and Titus were, when sent by St. Paul; and Judas and Silas, sent by the church of Jerusalem.
bOude di aveρwπou, "nor by man," i. e. his choice and separation to his ministry and apostleship was so wholly an act of God and Christ, that there was no intervention of any thing done by any man in the case, as there was in the election of Matthias. All this we may see explained at large, ver. 10-12, and ver. 16, 17, and chap. ii. 6-9.
2 Churches of Galatia." This was an evident seal of his apostleship to the Gentiles; since, in no bigger a country than Galatia, a small province of the lesser Asia, he had, in no long stay among them, planted several distinct churches.
3d Peace." The wishing of peace, in the Scripture-language, is the wish. ing of all manner of good.
4 *'Οπως εξεληται ήμας εκ του ενεςώτος αιώνος πονηρου. "That he might take us out of this present evil world," or age; so the Greek words signify. Whereby it cannot be thought that St. Paul meant, that Christians were to be immediately removed into the other world. Therefore essas av must signify something else than present world, in the ordinary import of those words in English. AY OUTOS, 1 Cor. ii. 6, 8, and in other places, plainly signifies the Jewish nation, under the Mosaical constitution; and it suits very well with the apostle's design in this epistle, that it should do so here. God has, in this world, but one kingdom, and one people. The nation of the Jews were the kingdom and people of God, whilst the law stood. And this kingdom of God, under the Mosaical constitution, was called away ouros, this age, or as it is commonly translated, this world, to which a vess, the present world, or age, here answers. But the kingdom of God, which was to be under the Messiah, wherein the economy and constitution of the Jewish church, and the nation itself, that, in opposition to Christ, adhered to it, was to be laid aside, is in the New
Testament called av av, the world, or age to come; so that "Christ's taking them out of the present world" may, without any violence to the words, be understood to signify his setting them free from the Mosaical constitution. This is suitable to the design of this epistle, and what St. Paul has declared in many other places. See Col. ii. 14-17, and 20, which agrees to this place, and Rom. vii. 4, 6. This law is said to be contrary to us, Col. ii. 14, and to "work wrath," Rom. iv. 15, and St. Paul speaks very diminishingly of the ritual parts of it in many places: but yet if all this may not be thought sufficient to justify the applying of the epithet onpou, evil, to it; that scruple will be removed if we take essay, “this present world," here, for the Jewish constitution and nation together; in which sense it may very well be called "evil;" though the apostle, out of his wonted tenderness to his nation, forbears to name them openly, and uses a doubtful expression, which might comprehend the heathen world also; though he chiefly pointed at the Jews.
CHAPTER I. 6.-II. 21.
WE have observed, that St. Paul's first endeavour, in this epistle, was to satisfy the Galatians, that the report spread of him, that he preached circumcision, was false. Until this obstruction that lay in his way was removed, it was to no purpose for him to go about to dissuade them from circumcision, though that be what he principally aims, in this epistle. To show them, that he promoted not circumcision, he calls their hearkening to those who persuaded them to be circumcised, their being removed from him; and those that so persuaded them, "perverters of the Gospel of Christ," ver. 6, 7. He farther assures them, that the Gospel which he preached every where was that, and that only, which he had received by immediate revelation from Christ, and no contrivance of man, nor did he vary it to please men: that would not consist with his being a servant of Christ, ver. 10. And he expresses such a firm adherence to what he had received from Christ, and had preached to them, that he pronounces an anathema upon himself, ver. 8, 9, or any other man or angel that should preach any thing else to them. To make out this to have been all along his conduct, he gives an account of himself, for many years backwards, even from the time before his conversion. Wherein he shows, that from a zealous persecuting Jew he was made a Christian, and an apostle, by immediate revelation; and that, having no
communication with the apostles, or with the churches of Judea, or any man, for some years, he had nothing to preach, but what he had received by immediate revelation. Nay, when, fourteen years after, he went up to Jerusalem, it was by revelation; and when he there communicated the Gospel, which he preached among the Gentiles, Peter, James, and John, approved of it, without adding any thing, but admitted him as their fellow apostle. So that, in all this, he was guided by nothing but divine revelation, which he inflexibly stuck to so far, that he openly opposed St. Peter for his Judaizing at Antioch. All which account of himself tends clearly to show, that St. Paul made not the least step towards complying with the Jews, in favour of the law, nor did, out of regard to man, deviate from the doctrine he had received by revelation from God.
All the parts of this section, and the narrative contained in it, manifestly concenter in this, as will more fully appear, as we go through them, and take a closer view of them; which will show us, that the whole is so skilfully managed, and the parts so gently slid into, that it is a strong, but not seemingly laboured justification of himself, from the imputation of preaching up circumci
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him, that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel:
6 I cannot but wonder that you are so soon removed from me', (who called you into the covenant of grace, which is
6" So soon." The first place we find Galatia mentioned, is Acts xvi. 6. And therefore St. Paul may be supposed to have planted these churches there, in his journey mentioned Acts xvi. which was Anno Domini 51. He visited them again, after he had been at Jerusalem, Acts xviii. 21-23, A. D. 54. From thence he returned to Ephesus, and staid there about two years, during which time this epistle was writ; so that, counting from his last visit, this letter was writ to them within two or three years from the time he was last with them, and had left them confirmed in the doctrine he had taught them; and therefore he might with reason wonder at their forsaking him so soon, and that Gospel he had converted them to.
b"From him that called you." These words plainly point out himself; but then one might wonder how St. Paul came to use them; since it would have sounded better to have said, "Removed from the Gospel I preached to you, to another Gospel, than removed from me that preached to you, to another Gospel. But if it be remembered, that St. Paul's design here, is to vindicate himself from the aspersion cast on him, that he preached circumcision, nothing could be more suitable to that purpose than this way of expressing himself.
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other Gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For, if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
7 in Christ) unto another sort of Gospel; Which is not owing to any thing else, but only this, that ye are troubled by a certain sort of men, who would overturn the Gospel of Christ, by making circumcision, and the keeping of the law, necessary under 8 the Gospel. But if even I myself, or an angel from heaven,
should preach any thing to you for Gospel, different from the 9 Gospel I have preached unto you, let him be accursed. I say it
again to you, if any one, under pretence of the Gospel, preach any other thing to you, than what ye have received from me, 10 let him be accursed. For can it be doubted of me, after having done and suffered so much for the Gospel of Christ, whether I do now, at this time of day, make my court to
70 8x 151 año I take to signify "which is not any thing else." The words themselves, the context, and the business the apostle is upon here, do all concur to give these words the sense I have taken them in. For, 1. If i had referred to uxor, it would have been more natural to have kept to the word ἕτερον, and not have changed it into αλλο. 2. It can scarce be supposed, by any one who reads what St. Paul says, in the following words of this verse, and the two adjoining; and also chap. iii. 4, and ver. 2-4, and 7, that St. Paul should tell them, that what he would keep them from, " is not another Gospel." 3. It is suitable to St. Paul's design here, to tell them, that to their being removed to "another Gospel," nobody else had contributed, but it was wholly owing to those Judaizing seducers.
b See Acts xv. 1, 5, 23, 24.
9" Accursed." Though we may look upon the repetition of the anathema here, to be for the adding of force to what he says, yet we may observe, that by joining himself with an angel, in the foregoing verse, he does as good as tell them, that he is not guilty of what deserves it, by skilfully insinuating to the Galatians, that they might as well suspect an angel might preach to them a Gospel different from his, i. e. a false Gospel, as that he himself should: and then, in this verse, lays the anathema, wholly and solely, upon the Judaizing seducers.
10 d Apl, "now," and T, "yet," cannot be understood without a reference to something in St. Paul's past life; what that was, which he had par ularly then in his mind, we may see by the account he gives of himself, in what immediately follows, viz. that before his conversion he was employed by men, in their designs, and made it his business to please them, as may be seen, Acts ix. 1, 2. But when God called him. he received his commission and instructions from him alone, and set immediately about it, without consulting any man whatsoever, preaching that, and that only, which he had received from