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He also deals more roundly with his disciples the Galatians than, we may observe, he does with the Romans, to whom he, being a stranger, writes not in so familiar a style, nor in his reproofs and exhortations uses so much the tone of a master, as he does to the Galatians.
St. Paul had converted the Galatians to the faith, and erected several churches among them, in the year of our Lord 51 ; between which and the year 57, wherein this epistle was writ, the disorders following were got into those churches :
First, Some zealots for the Jewish constitution had very near persuaded them out of their Christian liberty, and made them willing to submit to circumcision, and all the ritual observances of the Jewish church, as necessary under the Gospel, chap. i. 7. iii. 3. iv. 9, 10, 21. v. 1, 2, 6, 9, 10.
Secondly, Their dissensions and disputes in this matter had raised great animosities amongst them, to the disturbance of their peace, and the setting them at strife with one another, chap. v. 6, 13–15.
The reforming them in these two points seems to be the main business of this epistle, wherein he endeavours to establish them in a resolution to stand firm in the freedom of the Gospel, which exempts them from the bondage of the Mosaical law: and labours to reduce them to a sincere love and affection one to another; which he concludes with an exhortation to liberality and general beneficence, especially to their teachers, chap. vi. 6, 10. These being the matters he had in his mind to write to them about, he seems here as if he had done. But, upon mentioning, ver. 11, what a long letter he had writ to them with his own hand, the former argument concerning circumcision, which filled and warmed his mind, broke out again into what we find, ver. 12-17, of the sixth chapter.
CHAPTER I. 1-5.
Thus this preface is very proper in this place, to introduce what
TEXT. 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. Amen.
PARAPHRASE. 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 immedi
ately 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 pre
sent evil world, according to the will and good pleasure of God 5 and our Father, To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
NOTES. 1 * Oůx ár' år@cutwr, “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. boudè i' &v@ponou, “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. 3 €“ Peace.” The wishing of peace, in the Scripture-language, is the wishing of
all manner of good. 4 “Οπως εξέλησαι ημάς εκ του εγεςώτος αιώνος τονηρού. «That he might take us
out of this present evil word,” 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 eveçùs aiày must signify something else than present world, in the ordinary import of those words in English. Aiùy oltos, 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 aiùv OÚtos, this age, or as it is commonly translated, this world, to which aiùs éveças, the present world, or age, here
CHAPTER I. 6.-II. 21.
We have observed, that St. Paul's first endeavour, in this
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 circumcision.
TEXT. 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him, that called you into
the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel:
PARAPHRASE. 6 I cannot but wonder that you are so soon a removed from
me”, (who called you into the covenant of grace, which is
NOTES. 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. wbich was anno Domini bl. 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.“ For him that called you.” These words plainly point out himself; but then oue might wonder how St. Paul came to use them; since it would have souvded 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 aspersiou cast on him, that he preached circumcision, nothing could be more suitable to that purpose than this way of expressing himself.