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CHAP. 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 falshood 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 intirely 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.) 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.
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 2 the Father, who raised him up from the dead); And all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3 Favour be to you, and peace from God the Father, and
1 a Ovn år av рúra "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.
Oude data, "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. i. 6-9.
2 c "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 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.
4 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 and our 5 Father, To whom be glory for ever and ever.
4 e Ὄπως ἐξέλη]αι ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῷ ἐνες ῶτα αἰῶν Θ' πονηρῶ. * 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 is a must signify something else, than present world, in the ordinary import of those words in English. Al ros, 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 airos, this age, or as it is commonly translated, this world, to which aid vers, 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 aiŵr péλλwv, 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 wornpe, evil, to it; that scruple will be removed if we take issus aid, "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.
CHAP. 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 nó 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 circumcision.
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 soon* removed from me, (who called you into the covenant of grace,
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. 21-53. A.D. 54. From thence he returned to Ephesus, and staid there about two years, dur ing 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.
"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.