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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Galatians Chapter 5 Part One


Galatians 5:1 "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Free”: Deliverance from the curse that the law pronounces on the sinner who has been striving unsuccessfully to achieve his own righteousness (3:13, 22-26; 4:1-7), but who has now embraced Christ and the salvation granted to him by grace.
Stand fast therefore”: Stay where you are, Paul asserts, because of the benefit of being free from law and the flesh as a way of salvation and the fullness of blessing by grace.
The verse could be rendered: “For freedom Christ freed us. Therefore stand fast and do not again be subject to a yoke of bondage.” The “freedom” in view is freedom from the law, here called “a yoke of bondage.” Paul wants the Galatians to “stand fast,” that is, retain their spiritual freedom.
Yoke of bondage”: “Yoke” refers to the apparatus used to control a domesticated animal. The Jews thought of the “yoke of the law” as a good thing, the essence of true religion. Paul argued that for those who pursued it as a way of salvation, the law was a yoke of slavery.
We are to stand up for God and continually stand in the salvation the Lord provided for us. We are no longer under the bondage of the law; we are free to serve the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
A person, who had just been set free, would never choose to go back into bondage, if they were thinking clearly.
Galatians 5:2 "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."
If ye be circumcised”: Circumcision was the external ritual symbolizing acceptance of the law (verse 3). In such a case, one depended on legal works rather than on God’s grace as the means of salvation. “Christ,” then, “shall profit you nothing.”
Paul had no objection to circumcision itself (Acts 16:1-3; Phil. 3:5). But he objected to the notion that it had some spiritual benefit or merit with God and was a prerequisite or necessary component of salvation.
Circumcision had meaning in Israel when it was a physical symbol of a cleansed heart (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:24-26) and served as a reminder of God’s covenant of salvation promise (Gen. 17:9-10).
Christ shall profit you nothing”: The atoning sacrifice of Christ cannot benefit anyone who trusts in law and ceremony for salvation.
It appears that these Galatians believed if they were circumcised, that would somehow put them in better standing with the Lord. It is as if they believe this to be like baptism. Circumcision and sacrifices are almost as if they are saying that the shed blood of Jesus is not enough.
Hebrews 9:12-14 "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us]." "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:" "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
You can see that there was nothing left for us to do, Jesus did it all for us.
Galatians 5:3 "For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law."
He is a debtor to do the whole law”: God’s standard is perfect righteousness, thus a failure to keep only one part of the law falls short of the standard (see note on 3:10).
Circumcising is recognition of the law. To recognize the law in this manner would be to deny the power of grace in Jesus Christ. If you go back to the law to make you perfect in the sight of the law, then you are under the covenant of the law, and not under the covenant of grace.
Galatians 5:4 "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."
Christ is become no effect … fallen from grace”: The Greek word for “severed” (no effect), means “to be separated”, or “to be estranged.” The word for “fallen” means “to lose one’s grasp on something.” Paul’s clear meaning is that any attempt to be justified by the law is to reject salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Those once exposed to the gracious truth of the gospel, who then turn their backs on Christ (Heb. 6:4-6) and seek to be justified by the law are separated from Christ and lose all prospects of God’s gracious salvation. Their desertion of Christ and the gospel only proves that their faith was never genuine (Luke 8:13-14; 1 John 2:19).
Justified”: Through Faith.
This verse could be translated: “You will be severed from Christ, if you try to be justified by law; you will forfeit the favor in God’s eyes which Christ won for you.” This does not teach the loss of salvation which one earlier possessed.
Rather it means that if the readers truly renounce grace through faith alone as the way of salvation, if they depend on legalism to secure divine favor, then they show that they never really knew God’s grace in the first place.
You have decided to look for salvation in another, if you go back to the law. Grace is actually a freeing of yourself, but a freeing from the law, as well. Wherever you put your trust, is what you are depending on to save you. This would be turning away from Christ as your Justifier, and looking to the law for justification.
Galatians 5:5 "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."
Though the Spirit … hope of righteousness”: means that by the Holy Spirit’s help, which is obtained “by faith,” believers “wait for the hope of righteousness,” that is, live the Christian life awaiting the consummation of their salvation.
Christians already possess the imputed righteousness of Christ, but they still await the completed and perfected righteousness that is yet to come at glorification (Rom. 8:18, 21).
Christians are not like the rest of the world who have no hope. We have hope of the resurrection. Our hope is in Christ Jesus. He is our blessed Hope. Our righteousness is His righteousness that He clothed us in.
Colossians 1:27 "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
Galatians 5:6 "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
For” justifies the importance given faith in verse 5. In Christianity one does not profit spiritually either by being circumcised or uncircumcised. “Faith which worketh by love” means “faith that is produced by love.” Faith is a man’s response to God who loves him, and this divine love that produces faith results in his justification.
Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision”: 6:15. Nothing done or not done in the flesh, even religious ceremony, makes any difference in one’s relationship to God. What is external is immaterial and worthless, unless it reflects genuine internal righteousness (Rom. 2:25-29).
Circumcision is of the flesh. This, then, makes no difference either way, because Christianity is of the spirit. Christianity is a personal relationship with Christ.
Faith which worketh by love”: Saving faith proves its genuine character by works of love. The person who lives by faith is internally motivated by love for God and Christ (Matt. 22:37-40), which supernaturally issues forth in reverent worship, genuine obedience, and self-sacrificing love for others.
Romans 2:28-29 "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:" "But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God."
We see in all of this that Christianity has very little to do with the flesh. The only thing it does have to do with it is that we must cut away the flesh that the spirit might live. For us to be in a position that we desire to be with Christ, we must crucify our flesh and live in the spirit.
Galatians 5:7 "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"
Ye did run well” shows that the Galatians were making good progress spiritually. But the Judaizers “did hinder” them with a false gospel, so that now the readers do “not obey the truth.”
Paul compares the Galatians’ life of faith with a race, a figure he used frequently (2:2; Rom. 9:16; 1 Cor. 9:24). They had a good beginning – they had received the gospel message by faith and had begun to live their Christian lives by faith as well.
Obey the truth”: See note on 1 Pet. 1:22. A reference to believers’ true way of living, including both their response to the true gospel in salvation (Acts 6:7; Rom. 2:8; 6:17; 2 Thess. 1:8), and their consequent response to obey the Word of God in sanctification.
Paul wrote more about salvation and sanctification being a matter of obedience in Rom. 1:5; 6:16-17; 16:26. The legalistic influence of the Judaizers prevented the unsaved from responding in faith to the gospel of grace and true believers from living by faith.
Paul is telling them that they started out correctly. They were running the race of life well. Now they have listened to those who would come in and destroy. We must apply the blood of Jesus to our ear, so only things of God will be heard in our inner mind. We should not listen to others, and let them sway us. We should be thoroughly convinced, and never waver in our belief.
Galatians 5:8 "This persuasion [cometh] not of him that calleth you."
This persuasion”: Salvation by works. God does not promote legalism. Any doctrine that claims His gracious work is insufficient to save is false. This refers to the pressure tactics the heretics used to persuade the Galatians to embrace legalism.
They have listened to another doctrine other than what Paul had brought. The Lord God of heaven called you, stay with Him. God did not send the message to get back under the bondage of the law.
Galatians 5:9 "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
A little leaven” [false doctrine] “leaveneth” [permeates, corrupts] “the whole lump” (church). A common axiomatic saying (1 Cor. 5:6) regarding the influence of yeast in dough. Leaven is often used in Scripture to denote sin (Matt. 16:6, 12).
This is the same thing as saying; one rotten apple will ruin the whole barrel, if it is not removed. Leaven is sin. It is a sin to doubt the message of grace. Anything that displeases God is sin. Faith is the only thing that pleases God. It seems that some of these people in the church were listening to the Judaizers.
Galatians 5:10 "I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be."
Confidence in you”: Paul expresses encouraging assurance that the Lord will be faithful to keep His own from falling into gross heresy. See John 6:39-40; 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39; Phil. 1:6-7. They will persevere and be preserved (Jude 24).
Judgment”: All false teachers will incur strict and devastating eternal condemnation.
Paul believes that the Galatians will retain the true gospel and not be completely persuaded by the heretics.
It is a very dangerous thing to teach anything but the pure gospel message. Paul says; I know you will consider this and make the right decision. He knows, if they have time to consider what he is telling them, they will not accept going back into the law. Grace is too good to trade it for law.
Galatians 5:11 "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased."
If I yet preach circumcision”: Apparently the Judaizers had falsely claimed that Paul agreed with their teaching. But he makes the point that if he was preaching circumcision as necessary for salvation, why were the Judaizers persecuting him instead of supporting him?
Paul is evidently refuting the accusation that he “yet” (still) preaches a gospel of circumcision, as formerly in Judaism. But, he counters, the very fact that I do “yet suffer persecution” proves that is not the case; for Judaizers would commend, not persecute, him for preaching their gospel.
Offence” (stumbling block). The Greek word for “stumbling block” can mean “trap”, “snare,” or “offense.” Any offer of salvation that strips man of the opportunity to earn it by his own merit breeds opposition (Rom. 9:33).
One of the reasons they had difficulty with what Paul was saying, is the fact that he circumcised Timothy to appease the Jews. Paul had not circumcised Timothy, so that Timothy would be in better standing with God. He had done it, because the group of people Timothy would be ministering to were Jews, and they would not have let Timothy preach.
Acts 16:3 "Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek."
Paul did not believe in circumcising Christians. Paul's major persecution had come from the Jews. They even followed Paul from town to town and caused people to rise up against him, because he taught that Jesus Christ was the Jewish Messiah.
Paul suffered with Christ. Paul really counted it as gain to be persecuted bringing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The teaching of the cross was an offense to the Jews.
Galatians 5:12 "I would they were even cut off which trouble you."
The Greek word used here is “Mutilate”, and was often used of castration, such as in the cult of Cybele, whose priests were self-made eunuchs. Paul’s ironic point is that since the Judaizers were as insistent on circumcision as a means of pleasing God, they should go to the extreme of religious devotion and mutilate themselves.
The verse may mean, “I wish those troubling you would have them castrated.”
Paul was aware that those who were trying to put them back under the law, were there to destroy their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The best thing would be for these Judaizers to get out of the church, but it was highly unlikely that would happen.
Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."
Liberty”:
For an occasion to the flesh”: The Greek word for “occasion” (or opportunity) was often used to refer to a central base of military operations (Rom. 7:8). In the context, “flesh” refers to the sinful inclinations of fallen man (see note on Rom 7:5). The freedom Christians have is not a base from which they can sin freely and without consequence.
Serve one another”: Christian freedom is not for selfish fulfillment, but for serving others. Rom. 14:1-15.
Having shown freedom from the law to be proper protection against legalism (verses 1-12), Paul now demonstrates it to be a proper antidote against unrestrained license to sin (verses 13-26).
Believers are not to abuse their “liberty” from the law “for an occasion” [opportunity] “to the flesh” (sinful nature). That is, don’t think freedom from the law means you can indulge in sin; it means instead that you are free to serve God by serving “one another.”
Our salvation is a free gift from God. He washed our sins away. When we become a Christian, we no longer serve sin.
Romans 6:18 "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
What this is really saying is that our flesh controlled our will until we became Christians. Now our spirit (filled with Jesus) controls our will. If we are true Christians, it is Jesus in us who controls our will. We are no longer flesh, we are spirit. Just because we are forgiven, does not give us a license to sin.
Romans 6:19-22 "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." "For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things [is] death." "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
You see, we have been set free to live in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians Introduction

Ephesians Introduction

The first three chapters are theological, emphasizing New Testament doctrine, whereas the last three chapters are practical and focus on Christian behavior. Perhaps, above all, this is a letter of encouragement and admonition, written to remind believers of their immeasurable blessings in Jesus Christ; and not only to be thankful for those blessings, but also to live in a manner worthy of them.
Paul, whose original name was Saul, was of the tribe of Benjamin and probably was named after Israel’s first king and her most prominent Benjamite. Saul was well educated in what today are called the humanities, but his most expensive training was in rabbinic studies under the famous Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He became an outstanding rabbi in his own right and was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish council at Jerusalem. He also became probably the most ardent anti-Christian leader in Judaism (Acts 22:4-5).
He passionately hated the followers of Jesus Christ and was on his way to arrest some of them in Damascus when the Lord miraculously and dramatically stopped him in his tracks and drew him to Himself (Acts 9:1-8).
After spending three years in the desert of Nabataean Arabia, Paul jointly pastured a church in Antioch of Syria with Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius and Manaen (Acts 13:1). During this earlier ministry Saul came to be known as Paul (Acts 13:9). The new man took on a new name. From Antioch the Holy Spirit sent him out with Barnabas to begin the greatest missionary enterprise in the history of the church. At that point Paul began his work as God’s unique apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Romans 11:13).
The book of Ephesians is actually a letter written by Paul to the church at Ephesus. Some believe that Paul was not the writer, but I tend to believe he was. This letter was written somewhere around 60 to 64 A.D. by Paul from a prison in Rome (Acts 28:16-31) and therefore referred to as a prison epistle.
This letter is a call for the Jewish converts to Christianity and the Christians to be united. The key to the whole letter is unity in Christ. Each church had its own little peculiarities. Paul's special thrust, here, is the unity of the believers in Christ, both Jew and Gentile.
Ephesus was a thriving city. It was on the coast of Asia Minor. The people were a mixture of Greek and Asiatic. Diana, a false goddess, was worshipped here. The temple built for Diana had been 220 years in the building, and was thought of as one of the wonders of the world. All sorts of sorcery were practiced here. There were many Jews here, as well.
On one of Paul's visits to Ephesus, he stayed 2 years and 3 months. Aquila and Priscilla helped Paul here at Ephesus. In Revelation chapter 1 verse 11, we see that Ephesus was one of the 7 churches mentioned. Ephesus was visited several times by Paul. He was very interested in Ephesus.
On one of his visits many received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He fought against great odds here. The silversmith fought him over the false goddess Diana. The Jews fought him, and he even speaks of fighting wild beasts.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Galatians Chapter 4 Part Two


Galatians 4:17
"They zealously affect you, [but] not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them."
They”: The Judaizers.
Zealously affect you” (or, “seek your favor”): With a serious concern, or warm interest (the same word is used in 1:14 to describe Paul’s former zeal for Judaism). The Judaizers appeared to have a genuine interest in the Galatians, but their true motive was to exclude the Galatians from God’s gracious salvation and win recognition for themselves.
The Judaizers are wooing the Galatians, “but not well,” that is, with improper intentions. The heretics want to “exclude” or cut them off from Paul, so that the Galatians will then court the Judaizers’ favor.
The problem that we have been dealing with in this is that the Judaizers had been trying to put these Galatian Christians back under the Law of Moses. This, to me, means that they have worked hard at getting them to go back under the law. They were even threatening to have nothing to do with them, if they did not keep the law. This is separation of the wrong kind.
We are supposed to live wholesome lives after we receive salvation, but to go back to sacrificing and circumcising the men, would be denying that Jesus fulfilled the law for all believers. It would really be denying Him to be the Christ, the Messiah.
Galatians 4:18
"But [it is] good to be zealously affected always in [a] good [thing], and not only when I am present with you."
Not only when I am present with you”: Paul encouraged the Galatians to have the same zeal for the true gospel of grace that they had once had when he was with them.
It is good to be sought after (wooed, courted) when those doing the courting do so with pure motives. Paul seeks to prevent the readers from thinking that his remark in verse 17 means he wants to monopolize them: “I do not wish to have you all to myself,” to paraphrase the apostle. “I am glad others are fond of you, provided it is with honorable motives.” This is not the case with the Judaizers.
Paul is saying here, that it is a good thing to work hard for things that are right. The main thing is that Paul wants them to be strong in their belief, whether he is with them or not. He wants them to grow up in the Lord, so they will not be influenced to believe a lie. Paul cannot be with them all the time. He wants to know that they will be able to walk the Christian walk, even when he is not there.
Galatians 4:19
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,"
My little children” Paul’s only use of this affectionate phrase, which John uses frequently (“My little children,” 1 John 2:1, 18, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21).
This reveals that Paul’s concern for them (verse 18) is like that of a parent for his children. “I travail in birth” is the Greek word odino used of a woman suffering labor pains. It discloses the anxious concern, hard work, and pain experienced on his part for his converts.
This labor lasts “until Christ be formed in you,” that is, until Christ’s life, character and virtues are fully cultivated in their lives. Therefore, Paul is not speaking of their conversion but of their growth as Christians. Odino denotes not merely the anguish and exertion for giving birth, for formation of the embryo precedes labor pains.
Rather, a mother’s concern and labor extend from birth until her child reaches adulthood. So it is with Paul in his pastoral concern for the Galatians. But “again” indicates they failed to reach spiritual maturity following conversion, owing to this false gospel. So the writer is “again” laboring to bring them to full growth.
Paul is trying his best to get them into the Truth and then keep them in the Truth. Paul calls them his little children, because they came to Christ under his ministry. He calls them little children, because they had not grown up in the Lord. They were still feeding on milk and honey. He wants Christ to be so fully in their lives that they will not get off the Truth again.
Galatians 4:20
"I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you."
I stand in doubt of you” is another way of saying, “I am perplexed [disturbed] about you.” The verb means “to be at wits end.” Verse 6.
Paul is concerned that they have gone back into the teaching of the law. He believes if he were there, speaking directly to them, they would be stronger in the Truth.
Verses 4:21 – 5:1: Paul continuing to contrast grace and law, faith and work; employs an Old Testament story as an analogy or illustration of what he has been teaching.
Galatians 4:21
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?"
Under the law”:
Paul had spoken to them of his love for them, but now he changes to a reprimand. Those who are determined that it is necessary to keep the law of Moses are the ones he is specifically speaking to in this verse.
Galatians 4:22
"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman."
Two sons”: Ishmael, son of Sarah’s Egyptian maid Hagar (Gen. 16:1-16), and Isaac, Sarah’s son (Gen. 21:1-7). “The one” [Ishmael] “by a bondmaid” [slave woman, in this case, Hagar], “the other [Isaac] “by a freewoman” (Sarah).
We see in this a very good argument for not going back to the law. We have discussed in a previous lesson how the law symbolized the flesh, and grace symbolized the Spirit. The law brought bondage to them. Grace had brought freedom.
Galatians 4:23
"But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise."
Born after the flesh:” Ishmael’s birth was motivated by Abraham and Sarah’s lack of faith in God’s promise and fulfilled by sinful human means. Ishmael was born in the ordinary manner – natural physical generation. But Isaac’s birth was “by promise,” in other words, as the result of divine promise. Contrary to nature, god enabled his parents to conceive in old age.
The comparison, here, is in the natural birth of the nation of Israel and the law. They were symbolic of the bondwoman's children. This was a religion of works of the law.
The freewoman's son was the son the promise of the redeemer would be fulfilled through. The free woman was the mother of the son the promise to Abraham would come through. We have shown over and over in these lessons how the seed spoken of in the promise to Abraham was Jesus, and through Him His followers.
Galatians 4:24
"Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar."
An allegory” goes beyond certain surface parts of a historical account and draws out deeper meanings seemingly not inherent in that account.
The Greek word was used of a story that conveyed a meaning beyond the literal sense of the words. In this passage, Paul uses historical people and places from the Old Testament to illustrate spiritual truth.
This is actually not an allegory, nor are there any allegories in Scripture. An allegory is a fictional story where real truth is the secret, mysterious, hidden meaning. The story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac is actual history and has no secret or hidden meaning. Paul uses it only as an illustration to support his contrast between law and grace.
Paul is saying: “These things lend themselves to the following figurative explanation.” Paul makes Hagar represent the Mosaic covenant (i.e., the law) “which gendereth to bondage” (or, “which begets children for slavery”). As Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, sharing her same social status of slavery, so the law puts those subject to it in spiritual bondage.
Two covenants”: Paul uses the two mothers, their two sons, and two locations as a further illustration of two covenants. Hager, Ishmael, and Mt. Sinai (earthly Jerusalem) represent the covenant of law; Sarah, Isaac and the heavenly Jerusalem the covenant of promise.
However, Paul cannot be contrasting these two covenants as different was of salvation, one way for Old Testament saint, another for New Testament saints – a premise he has already denied (2:16; 3:10-14, 21-22). The purpose of the Mosaic Covenant was only to show all who were under its demands and condemnation their desperate need for salvation by grace alone (3:24 – it was never intended to portray the way of salvation.
Paul’s point is that those, like the Judaizers, who attempt to earn righteousness by keeping the law, receive only bondage and condemnation (3:10, 23). While those who partake of salvation by grace – the only way of salvation since Adam’s sin – are freed from the law’s bondage and condemnation.
Mount Sinai”: An appropriate symbol for the old covenant, since it was at Mt. Sinai that Moses received the law (Exodus 19).
Hagar”: Since she was Sarah’s slave (Gen. 16:1), Hagar is a fitting illustration of those under bandage to the law (verses 5, 21, 3:23). She was actually associated with Mt. Sinai through her son Ishmael whose descendants settled in that region.
We see in these two covenants, the law and the grace. The law covenant was made to the physical house of Israel, and the covenant of promise (grace) was for the spiritual house of Israel (all believers in Christ).
The strange thing is that the covenant of the law had to be, before there could be the covenant of grace from the law. The law brought bondage upon the people. Agar or Hagar was the mother of the son of the flesh (Ishmael).
Galatians 4:25
"For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children."
For” further explains the link between Hagar and Sinai. “Hagar is mount Sinai” means, “Hagar stands for Mount Sinai.” Hagar “answereth” [corresponds] “to” the then current “Jerusalem” (i.e., Judaism). Paul viewed Hagar and Judaism in the same way, for as Hagar and her offspring were in social bondage, so Judaism and her adherents were in spiritual slavery to the law.
Answereth … Jerusalem”: The law was given at Sinai and received its highest expression in the temple worship at Jerusalem. The Jewish people were still in bondage to the law.
Galatians 4:26
"But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
Jerusalem which is above is free”: Heaven (Heb. 12:18, 22). Those who are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20) are free from the Mosaic Law, works, bondage, and trying endlessly and futilely to please God by the flesh.
The mother”: Believers are children of the heavenly Jerusalem, the “mother-city” of heaven. In contrast to the slavery of Hagar’s children, believers in Christ are free (5:1; Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18; John 8:36; Rom. 6:18, 22; 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:17).
Christianity is represented by “Jerusalem which is above,” that is, the heavenly city. This Christian community is described as being “free,” that is, not under the law.
This is speaking of the New Jerusalem. This is the Jerusalem where Christ reigns. New Jerusalem and the Christians are sometimes spoken of as the same. Of course, the New Jerusalem spoken of as the bride of Christ and the believers in Christ being the bride of Christ is what I am speaking of.
Galatians 4:27
"For it is written, Rejoice, [thou] barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband."
Paul applies the passage from Isaiah 54:1 to the Jerusalem above.
The “barren” woman is Christianity; “she which hath a husband” is Judaism. Initially the latter had many adherents and the former had few. But Christianity “hath” [will have] “many more children” (i.e., followers] than Judaism.
This has to be a spiritual statement. This could not be in the natural. This is speaking of the Christians, who are saved, being so many that they are impossible to number. The Jews, or physical Israel, is small in comparison to that.
Galatians 4:28
"Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise."
Children of promise”: Just as Isaac inherited the promises made to Abraham (Gen. 26:1-3), so also are believers the recipients of God’s redemptive promises (1 Cor. 3:21-23, Eph. 1:3), because they are spiritual heirs of Abraham.
Now” begins to apply the figurative manner of explanation. Paul views Christians as “children of promise.” That is, as Isaac was born in fulfillment of divine promise, so the Galatians’ status as God’s “children” rests neither on physical descent nor on meritorious works, but on faith in God’s “promise.”
Believers in Christ (Christians) are the children of promise, through Jesus Christ. Isaac was the spiritual son of Abraham. He was the son of promise, not the son of the flesh. Our blessing is from the right hand. The right hand blessing is the spiritual blessing.
Galatians 4:29
"But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him [that was born] after the Spirit, even so [it is] now."
He that was born after the flesh”: Ishmael.
Persecuted him that was born after the Spirit”: Isaac, who Ishmael mocked at the feast celebrating Isaac’s weaning (see Gen. 21:8-9).
Even so it is now,” says Paul; those seeking salvation by works trouble those seeking divine favor by faith in God’s grace (5:10).
Ishmael’s descendants (Arabs) have always persecuted Isaac’s (Jews). So unbelievers have always persecuted believers (Matt. 5:11; 10:22-25; Mark 10:30; John 15:19-20; 16:2, 33; 17:14; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; Heb. 11:32-37; 1 Pet. 2:20-21; 3:14; 4:12-14).
The war has always been between the flesh and the Spirit. Christians are born of the Spirit of God. We are not of the flesh.
John 3:5-6 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Paul is warning them here that there will never be peace between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh wants to put you under bondage. The Spirit frees.
Galatians 4:30
"Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
Cast out the bondwoman”: Quoted from Gen. 21:10 to illustrate that those who are attempting to be justified on the basis of keeping the law will be cast out of God’s presence forever (Matt. 8:12; 22:12-13, 25:30; Luke 13:28; 2 Thess. 1:9).
Paul continues applying the allegory by citing Genesis 21:10-12, where Abraham was advised to send Hagar and Ishmael away from Sarah and Isaac. The Galatians are to excommunicate the Judaizers from their ranks. Why? Legal bondage (justification by works) and spiritual freedom (justification by faith) cannot coexist.
Jesus is the Way to heaven. There is only one way to get there. Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ makes heaven your home. It is not possible to believe in Jesus, and not believe Him all at the same time. Romans chapter 10 verses 9-10 tell what you must do to be saved.
Romans 10:9-101 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
This leaves no doubt at all. The son of the flesh denies the Lord Jesus. The son of the freewoman believes. His faith is counted unto him as righteousness.
Galatians 4:31
"So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."
We are not children of the bondwoman”:
Christians are not of the flesh, but are of the Spirit. We are righteous, with faithful Abraham, because we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is saying one more time, stay free and do not go back into the bondage of the law.

2 Corinthians Chapter 13


2 Corinthians 13:1:
Paul informed the Corinthians that he would deal biblically with any sin he found in Corinth.
This is a statement that Jesus had spoken of as being true with the Jews, as well as the Christians. This is one of the reasons that we are not to take everything in Corinthians as doctrine for the general church. Everything must be established by two different witnesses, or else it is a custom, or tradition, instead of a law.
In many of the statements made in Corinthians, Paul is the only one who said it.
Deuteronomy 19:15 "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."
In the following Scripture, we read what the Lord Jesus had to say about this very thing.
John 8:17 "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true." The number two means agreement.
2 Corinthians 13:2
Paul is saying to those who think he is not coming and are continuing in their sin, that when he comes in person, he will take care of the problem.
As we had found in chapter 12:21 that Paul did not want to find the Corinthians in the same sorry spiritual condition as on his last visit, the one called the “painful visit”. If he came and found them practicing the same sins that he mentions in that scripture, he would have had to discipline them.
2 Corinthians 13:3:
Paul is saying, I may appear in the flesh to weak, but Christ speaking in me is very strong. Even though they had strayed, The Lord Jesus Christ had not abandoned them. They were but babes in Christ who needed further training in the things of God. Paul was just the one who could give this training, because of the power of Christ which worked in him.
Those Corinthians still seeking proof that Paul was a genuine apostle would have it when he arrived. They may have gotten more than they bargained for, for Paul was going to use his apostolic authority and power to deal with any sin and rebellion he found there.
Christ’s power was to be revealed through Paul against the sinning Corinthians. By rebelling against Christ’s chosen apostle, they were rebelling against Him.
2 Corinthians 13:4:
It appeared to the world that the Lord Jesus Christ was weak, because he was crucified. What Satan thought to be his greatest victory, was actually his defeat. The greatest victory of all time was the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross. He defeated Satan and sin for all of mankind on the cross.
He defeated death, when He rose from the grave. Paul is saying, we may appear to be weak, but that is our flesh you are looking at. The power of the living God {Jesus Christ} in Paul made him stronger than anything that could be thrown against him. Our lives and Paul's life is hid in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Paul was to come to Corinth armed with the irresistible power of the risen, glorified Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:5
Paul turned the tables on his accusers, Instead of presuming to evaluate his apostleship; they needed to test the genuineness of their faith. (James 2:14-26) He pointed out the incongruity of the Corinthians’ believing as they did, that their faith was genuine and his apostleship false.
Paul was their spiritual father and if his apostleship was counterfeit, so was their faith. The genuineness of their salvation was proof of the genuineness of his apostleship.
"Reprobates", in the verse above, means unapproved, rejected, worthless, or castaway. All true Christians have Jesus within them. The reprobate is those who totally reject Jesus as their Savior.
2 Corinthians 13:6
There was no question that Paul was not a reprobate. He was so full of the Lord Jesus that many miracles were performed by him in the name of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 13:7
Paul is not saying he is reprobate, he is saying, that the false teachers there at Corinth think he is reprobate. Paul's concern is for his church, and not for himself. Paul prayed to God for his churches all the time.
His deepest longing was for his spiritual children to lead godly lives, even if they persisted in doubting him. Paul was even willing to appear “disqualified,” as long as the Corinthians turned from their sin.
2 Corinthians 13:8-9
Lest anyone think Paul’s reference to being disqualified in verse 7 was an admission of wrongdoing on his part, Paul hastened to add that he had not violated “the truth” of the gospel. The apostle may also have meant that he needed to take no action against the Corinthians if he found them living according to “the truth”.
In that case, he would rejoice in his “weakness”, that is, his lack of opportunity to exercise his apostolic power, because that would mean that the Corinthian’ were spiritually “strong”.
The Word of God is Truth. I have said, over and over, the 2 great powers in the world are the spoken and the written Word. Paul's power and, in fact, our power is in the Truth of God. The only way to accomplish anything is with the Truth. When we operate in the power of the Word of God, it is Truth.
Paul is much more concerned for those he led to the Lord than he is for himself. He says, I do not need to be elevated up. Paul wishes that they will be perfect in all their deeds.
2 Corinthians 13:10
This is a one sentence summary of Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to the Corinthians.
Paul is afraid, if he were with them, and they had not repented of their sins, that he would get really harsh with them, and possibly even run them off from God. The Lord has given him power and authority to rule over these churches that he started. Paul would rather build them up, instead of destroy them. This is why he is writing, instead of coming to them in person.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Paul's last words to them are speaking a blessing on them. He wants them to feel his love for them in these last few words of his letter to them. He rebuked them for their sin, which he had to do as their leader, but he wants them to know that he has not stopped loving them.
This was written as an encouragement to the Corinthians to carry out the exhortations in the first part of the verse. Only here in the New Testament is God called “the God of Love”.
He has high hopes for the way they will conduct their lives from here on in. Just as a loving parent, his last words are instructions on how to live peaceful lives. He says, I know you will do these things. Do not fuss and fight. Be of one mind and one accord.
2 Corinthians 13:12
This was a sign of greeting in biblical times, much like the modern handshake. For Christians, it further expressed brotherly love and unity.
2 Corinthians 13:13
Those in Macedonia, possibly Philippi, from where Paul wrote 2 Corinthians are most likely the saints being referred to here.
While encouraging unity within the Corinthian church, Paul did not want the Corinthians to lose sight of their unity with other churches.
2 Corinthians 13:14
The Trinitarian benediction reminded the Corinthians of the blessings they had received: “grace” from the Lord Jesus Christ, “love” from God the Father and “communion” with God and each other through the Holy Spirit. Jesus was mentioned before the Father because His sacrificial death is the ultimate expression of God’s love.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Galatians Chapter 4 Part One


Verses 1-7: Paul expands on the analogy of a child’s coming of age (3:24-26), contrasting believers’ lives before salvation (as children and servants), with their lives after salvation (as adults and sons). Both Paul’s Jewish and Gentile readers readily understood this imagery, since the Jews, Greeks, and Romans all had a ceremony to mark a child’s coming of age.
Paul uses the Roman practice of tutela impuberis, “guardianship for a minor,” to illustrate man’s temporary subjection to the law. A Roman father appointed guardians to manage his child’s affairs until 25 years of age, at which time the heir came of age. Similarly, man’s earlier period of spiritual immaturity under the law is contrasted with the Christian’s new freedom of adult Sonship in Christ.
Galatians 4:1 "Now I say, [That] the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;"
Child”: The Greek word refers to a child too young to talk; a minor, spiritually and intellectually immature and not ready for the privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.
We see in this, that Paul is still speaking of the same things that he did in chapter 3, but with a slightly different slant. Some servants were entrusted with the wealth of the family. This was the case with Abraham. His trusted servant was even sent to bring a wife for Isaac.
A small child will inherit his father's fortune, if the father dies. When he is small, he is not capable of handling the affairs. In a case such as this the trusted servant would care for the inheritance for the child, until he became of age. It may all belong to him, but he cannot take possession, until he is more mature.
The child must be in obedience to his father the same as the servant, until he is of age.
Galatians 4:2 "But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father."
Tutors and governors” or “Guardians and managers”. “Guardians” were slaves entrusted with the care of underage boy, while “managers” managed their property for them until they came of age. Along with the tutor (3:24), they had almost compete charge of the child – so that, for all practical purposes, a child under their care did not differ from a slave.
This is reverting back to the schoolmaster in the chapter before. A brand new Christian cannot really handle his own affairs, until he is schooled in God's ways. It is really not for us to decide when we are ready to be released from training. Only God knows when we can begin to teach, instead of being taught.
Galatians 4:3 "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:"
When we were children … in bondage”: Before our “coming of age” when we came to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Elements of the world”: “Elemental” is from a Greek word meaning “row,’ or “rank,” and was used to speak of basic, foundational things like the letters of the alphabet. In light of its use in verse 9, it is best to see it here as a reference to the basic elements and rituals of human religion.
Paul describes both Jewish and Gentile religions as elemental because they are merely human, never rising to the level of the divine. Both Jewish religion and Gentile religion centered on man-made systems of works.
They were filled with laws and ceremonies to be performed so as to achieve divine acceptance. All such rudimentary elements are immature, like behaviors of children under bondage to a guardian.
We … were in bondage under” means “we … were subject to.”
The elements of the world” refers to elementary religious teachings and practices. For the Jew it was the law. For the Gentile it was the truths of the law written in his heart (Rom. 2:14-15). Before Christ man was, as it was, spiritually immature. Therefore, he was subject to the rudimentary teaching of the law.
The battle raging for a Christian is the battle between the flesh and the spirit. When we are first saved, habits still call out to our flesh, and put us under bondage of the desires of our flesh. As we grow in the Lord, our spirit becomes stronger and takes over control. When the spirit reigns, sin no longer has us under bondage. We overcome the world and the flesh, and live for Jesus.
Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,"
The fullness of the time” In God’s timetable, when the exact religious, cultural and political conditions demanded by His perfect plan were in place, Jesus came into the world. This corresponds to “the time appointed of [by] the father” in 4:2.
God sent forth his Son”: As a father set the time for the ceremony of his son be coming of age and being released from the guardians, mangers and tutors, so God sent His Son at the precise moment to bring all who believe out from under bondage to the law – a truth Jesus repeatedly affirmed (John 5:30, 36-37; 6:39, 44, 57; 8:16, 18, 42; 12:49; 17:21, 25; 20:21).
That the Father sent Jesus into the world teaches His pre-existence as the eternal second member of the Trinity. See notes on Phil. 2:6-7; Heb. 1:3-5; Rom. 8:3-4.
Made of a woman” (or, “born of a woman”): This emphasizes Jesus’ full humanity, not merely His virgin birth (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:20-25). Jesus had to be fully God for His sacrifice to be of the infinite worth needed to atone for sin. But, He also had to be fully man so He could take upon Himself the penalty of sin as the substitute for man. See Luke 1:32, 35; John 1:1, 14, 18.
Under the law”: Like all men, Jesus was obligated to obey God’s law. Unlike anyone else, however, He perfectly obeyed that law (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:54). His sinlessness made Him the unblemished sacrifice for sins, who perfectly obey God in everything. That perfect righteousness is what is imputed to those who believe in Him.
This stresses Jesus’ humiliation at leaving His pre-existent glory and becoming man; without having done so He could not have died for our sins. “Made under the law’ (or, “born subject to the law”): He was born a Jew under the law in order to free those under the curse of the law (4:5).
In heaven, Jesus was the Word of God. At a time appointed of the Father, the Son of God was sent to this earth in the form of man to save His people. The Holy Spirit hovered over Mary, and she conceived of the Spirit of God. The flesh of the Lord Jesus was as a man. It was a flesh body. It (the body of Jesus) was made under the law.
Mary was a natural woman. The body of Jesus was natural man. The Spirit, within that body, was God the Son, or God the Word. Jesus was made of the woman and not of man. In Genesis chapter 3 verse 15 this had been promised.
Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
The Father of Jesus was not Joseph. The Father of Jesus was God. This plan had been made from the foundation of the world.
Galatians 4:5 "To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
Redeem”: From the law.
Them … under the law”: Guilty sinners who are under the law’s demands and its curses and in need of a savior.
The adoption of sons”: “Adoption” is the act of bringing someone who is the off-spring of another into one’s own family Since unregenerate people are by nature children of the devil the only way they can become God’s children is by spiritual adoption (Rom. 8:15, 23; Eph. 1:5).
The Greek word huiotes would have denoted Sonship by birth. But the word rendered “adoption of sons” is huiothesia, which means Sonship conferred. Through Christ believers have become God’s sons by adoption.
The reason that all must be redeemed from the law is the fact that by the law all are condemned to die. The law brings death.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Every Christian has been redeemed by Jesus Christ with His precious blood and been adopted into the family of God. We are the adopted sons of the Father, if we accept Jesus as our Savior Redeemer.
Galatians 4:6 "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
Because ye are sons:” Every child of God was divinely given the Holy Spirit the moment he was adopted by God. “Abba” is an Aramaic domestic term by which the father was called in the affectionate intimacy of the family. It corresponds to our “daddy” or “papa.” The Spirit gives us awareness that God is our Father.
Abba”; An Aramaic term of endearment, used by young children to speak to their fathers; it is the equivalent of the word “Daddy”.
Spirit of his Son”: It is the Holy Spirit’s work to confirm to believers their adoption as God’s children. Assurance of salvation is a gracious work of the Holy Spirit and does not come from any human source.
Only Jesus and Jesus' followers can call the Father Abba. It is actually the Spirit of Jesus within us that cries out Abba. The Holy Spirit within us reveals the fact to us of our sonship. This Spirit of the Risen Christ within us opens our understanding to this.
Galatians 4:7 "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
Thou art no more a servant” is Paul’s way of concluding that the believer is no longer under law. He is instead” a son,” that is, a full-grown adult son who does not need the law’s elementary instruction and guidance.
Our inheritance is in Christ and we are His inheritance as well.
1 Peter 1:4 "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,"

We must not lose sight of the fact that Paul is explaining to these Galatians the benefits of the grace of God over the law. The Judaizers were trying to put them back under the law. Christians receive sonship through the Spirit of Christ within them.
Verses 8-11: While salvation is the free gift of God (Rom. 5:15-16, 18; 6:23; Eph. 2:8), it brings with it serious responsibility (Luke 12:48). God requires believers to live a holy life because they are children of a holy God and desire to love and worship Him (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15-18).
That obligation was to the unchanging moral and spiritual principles that forever reflect the nature of God; however, it did not include the rituals and ceremonies unique to Israel under Mosaic Law as the Judaizers falsely claimed.
Galatians 4:8 "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods."
When ye knew not God”: Before coming to saving faith in Christ, no unsaved person knows God. Eph. 4:17-19; 2 Cor. 4:3-6.
By nature are no gods”: The Greco-Roman pantheon of non-existent deities the Galatians had imagined they worshiped before their conversion (Rom 1:23; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 10:19-20; 12:2; 1 Thess. 1:9).
Howbeit then” means “although at an earlier time” and refers to the Galatians’ pre-Christian, pagan past. They “did service” to, or served, false gods.
Many of the Galatians had been heathen people, before they received Christ as their Savior. They truly had not known what, or whom to worship, until they received the Truth through Jesus Christ.
The creation of God is not to be worshipped. Anything that you can see with your natural eye is not God. The things of nature can glorify God, but they are not God and should not be worshipped. They worshipped things which really were not God.
Galatians 4:9 " But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"
Are known of God”: We can know God only because He first knew us, just as we choose Him only because He first chose us (John 6:44; 15:16), and we love him only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Turn ye again”:
Weak … beggarly elements … again … bondage”:  
But now” refers to the recipients’ Christian present. The question raised by “how” contains a prohibition, by which Paul says, in effect, “Don’t you dare turn again to the weak and beggarly elements!” (i.e. the law).
As unbelievers the Gentile Galatians were formerly under law in that its truths were written in their consciences (Rom. 2:14-15). The law (“elements”) is describes as “weak” because it cannot save, and it is depicted as “beggarly” (poor) because, as a system, it is inferior to the New Covenant.
Paul is speaking directly to the Christians in Galatia now. We will never really know God in the fullest sense, until we are in heaven with Him. He knows us though. How can they even think of turning away from the freedom they know in Christianity and go back to the bondage of the law?
Galatians 4:10 "Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years."
Days … years”: The rituals, ceremonies and festivals of the Jewish religious calendar which God had given, but were never required for the church. Paul warns the Galatians, as he did the Colossians (see notes on Rom. 14:1-6; Col. 2:16-17), against legalistically observing them as if they were required by God or could earn favor with Him.
The Galatians were beginning to “observe” that part of the law least repugnant to them – the calendar: “days” (Sabbath, fast, and feast days), “months” (new moons or feast days beginning with each month); “times” (Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles); and “years” (sabbatical years, and the Year of Jubilee).
This was very much a part of the law. This observance of days had to do with the Sabbath and with the feast of the law. There are some religions today that are doing like these people in Galatia were doing. On one hand they wanted the benefits of Christianity, but they were very much caught up in the law.
This is one of the reasons the Christians celebrate Sunday instead of Saturday for their holy day. The Christians are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. The others are living in the law.
Galatians 4:11 "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."
Labor … in vain”: Paul feared that his effort in establishing and building the Galatian churches might prove to be futile if they fell back into legalism (3:4; 1 Thess. 3:5).
In vain” means “without saving result.” Should the Galatians completely embrace the law and the Judaizers’ message of salvation by works; it would show their profession of faith in Paul’s gospel to have been merely outward and not real.
Paul is feeling as if they have forgotten everything he taught them. To observe all of the law would be to say that Jesus' sacrifice was not sufficient to fulfill all of the law. Paul says, perhaps, I have wasted my time on you.
Verses 12-20: Having sternly rebuked the Galatians, Paul changes his approach and makes an appeal based on his strong affection for them.
Galatians 4:12 "Brethren, I beseech you, be as I [am]; for I [am] as ye [are]: ye have not injured me at all."
As I am, for I am as ye are”: Paul had been a proud, self-righteous Pharisee, trusting in his own righteousness to save him (Phil. 3:4-6). But when he came to Christ, he abandoned all efforts to save himself, trusting wholly in God’s grace (Phil. 3:7-9). He urged the Galatians to follow his example and avoid the legalism of the Judaizers.
Be as I am” is an appeal to the readers to be free from the law as Paul is. “I am as ye are” signifies that Paul, though a Jew, regards himself as free from the law’s bondage in the same way that the non-Jewish Galatians are.
Ye have not injured me at all”: means Paul’s severe language of verses 8-11 is not due to their offending him. To the apostle this remark serves as a motivating factor for the Galatians: “Since you have not previously injured me, do not do so now by refusing my request of verse 9.”
Though the Jews persecuted him when he first went to Galatia, the Galatian believers had not harmed Paul, but had enthusiastically received him when he preached the gospel to them. (Acts 13:42-50; 14:19). How, he asked, could they reject him now?
Paul had to face this very thing himself. He had been taught from his youth the law. He had even observed some of the same things he is speaking against here. Paul says, look, I have overcome that. Paul realizes that you cannot practice the law and grace at the same time. We must choose between the two.
Paul is trying to make them understand that everything was taken care of in Jesus Christ. They had not caused him to fall away from grace.
Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come," "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Galatians 4:13 "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first."
Infirmity of the flesh”: Some think the illness Paul refers to was malaria, possibly contracted in the coastal lowlands of Pamphylia. That could explain why Paul and Barnabas apparently did not preach at Perga, a city in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13-14).
Through infirmity of the flesh” means “because of bodily illness.” Evidently physical sickness led to Paul’s earlier ministry among the Galatians. Perhaps he had not planned to evangelize Galatia, but illness altered his itinerary, thus leading him there.
The cooler and healthier weather in Galatia and especially at Pisidian Antioch (3,600 feet above sea level), where Paul went when he left Perga, would have brought some relief to the fever caused by malaria. Although malaria is a serious, debilitating disease, its attacks are not continuous; Paul could have ministered between bouts with fever.
We know that Paul had an infirmity of the flesh. He did stay with them for a while and preach, in spite of his infirmity. "Infirmity", in the verse above, means feebleness of body or mind. It could, also, mean malady, frailty, disease, sickness, or weakness. It was an effort on Paul's part to bring them the message.
Galatians 4:14 "And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus."
Received me” The Galatians welcomed Paul in spite of his illness, which in no way was a barrier to his credibility or acceptance.
Christ Jesus”: Lord and Savior.
In contrast to any supposed Galatian mistreatment of Paul (verse 12), this verse reveals how well they treated him. “My temptation which was in my flesh” might be paraphrased, “that which tried you in my body.” Paul’s physical ailment (verse 13) may have been repulsive to the Galatians who viewed it.
Nevertheless they “despised not, nor rejected” him because of this illness, but accepted him “as an angel of God.” Paul’s statement implies the question: “Having treated me so well when physically offensive, will you now mistreat me by embracing a false gospel?”
Whatever the problem that Paul had, did not cause these people to reject hearing the message of the gospel to them. There are all sorts of speculation as to what the problem was, I will not add to that confusion by guessing. If we were supposed to know, the Lord would tell us. They had overlooked the infirmity and received him as a ministering spirit from the Lord.
If we minister the way God would have us to, we do not speak of ourselves. We allow the Lord Jesus to minister through us. This was the case with Paul. Paul opened his mouth and the Lord Jesus Christ spoke through him to the people. The people accepted the message, knowing that Christ was speaking through Paul.
Galatians 4:15 "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if [it had been] possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me."
Blessedness” means here “gratefulness.” It indicates that the Galatians considered themselves fortunate for having been under Paul’s earlier ministry. They were so grateful that they would have given him their own eyes had it been possible. The apostle’s question implies that the Galatians, vacillating between grace and law, may no longer be grateful for his previous ministry.
Blessing can also be translated “happiness,” or “satisfaction.” Paul points out that the Galatians had been happy and content with his gospel preaching (Acts 13:48) and wonders why they had turned against him.
Plucked out your own eyes”: This may be a figure of speech (Matt. 5:29; 18:9), or an indication that Paul’s bodily illness had somehow affected his eyes (6:11). In either case, it reflects the great love the Galatians had initially expressed for the apostle.
Paul is disturbed, because they had turned away from that first message they had so readily accepted. He says, you believed every word I said and you would have done anything to help me. Why have you changed your mind about the gospel of Christ? Paul is trying to explain to them that Truth never changes. Where did your love for the message I brought go?
Galatians 4:16 "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"
Your enemy”: The Galatians had become so confused that, in spite of their previous affection for Paul, some had come to regard him as their enemy. The apostle reminds them that he had not harmed them, but merely told them the truth – a truth that had once brought them great joy.
This verse contrasts the Galatians’ previous and current attitudes toward Paul. They used to esteem him highly (verse 14-15); but now, as the Judaizers turn the readers’ affection from Paul, they are beginning to regard him as an opponent because he speaks “the truth” of the gospel, pointing out their erroneous ways.
The problem is that while Paul was away, the enemy crept in. Paul had brought the Truth, but while he was away, they began to believe a lie. They had even turned against Paul, because he is telling them the Truth. Paul loves them and wants to be their friend, but more than that, he wants them to accept the Truth.