Galatians 1

Verse 21. Lest, when I come again] And even after all that

has been done for you, I fear that when I do come-when I pay you

my second visit, my God will humble me-will permit me to be

affected with deep sorrow through what I may see among you; as I

have been by the buffetings of the apostle of Satan, who has

perverted you. Humiliation is repeatedly used for affliction, and

here ταπεινωση has certainly that meaning.

Have sinned already] προημαρτηκοτων. Who have sinned before;

who were some of the first offenders, and have not yet repented.

Of the uncleanness, &c.] There must have been a total

relaxation of discipline, else such abominations could not have

been tolerated in the Christian Church. And although what is here

spoken could only be the ease of a few; yet the many were ill

disciplined, else these must have been cast out. On the whole,

this Church seems to have been a composition of excellences and

defects, of vices and virtues; and should not be quoted as a model

for a Christian Church.

1. FROM St. Paul we receive two remarkable sayings of our Lord,

which are of infinite value to the welfare and salvation of man;

which are properly parts of the Gospel, but are not mentioned by

any evangelist. The first is in Ac 20:35:

I have showed you, the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, IT IS

MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE. Every liberal heart feels

this in bestowing its bounty; and every poor man, who is obliged

to receive help, and whose independency of spirit is still whole

in him, feels this too. To the genuine poor, it is more

burdensome to receive a kindness, than it is to the generous man

who gives it. The second is recorded in the ninth verse of this

chapter 2Co 12:9:


IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS. Of these two most blessed sayings,

St. Paul is the only evangelist. This last is of general

application. In all states and conditions of life God's grace is

sufficient for us. If in any case we miscarry, it is because we

have not sought God earnestly. Let no man say that he is overcome

by sin through want of grace; God's grace was sufficient for him,

but he did not apply for it as did St. Paul, and therefore he did

not receive it. Men often lay the issue of their own infidelity

to the charge of God, they excuse their commission of sin through

their scantiness of grace; whereas the whole is owing to their

carelessness, and refusal to be saved in God's own way; and in

this way alone will God save any man, because it is the only

effectual way.

2. The apostle must have been brought into a blessed state of

subjection to God, when he could say, I take pleasure in

infirmities; that is, in afflictions and sufferings of different

kinds. Though this language was spoken on earth, we may justly

allow, with one, that he learned it in HEAVEN.

3. St. Paul preached the Gospel without being burdensome. In

every case the labourer is worthy of his hire. He who labours for

the cause of God should be supported by the cause of God; but wo

to that man who aggrandizes himself and grows rich by the spoils

of the faithful! And to him especially who has made a fortune out

of the pence of the poor! In such a man's heart the love of money

must have its throne. As to his professed spirituality, it is

nothing; he is a whited sepulchre, and an abomination in the sight

of the Lord. If a man will love the world, (and he does love it

who makes a fortune by the offerings of the poor,) the love of the

Father is not in him.





Chronological Notes relative to this Epistle.

Usherian year of the world, 4056.

-Alexandrian era of the world, 5554.

-Antiochian era of the world, 5544.

-Constantinopolitan era of the world, 5560.

-Year of the Eusebian epocha of the Creation, 4280.

-Year of the Julian period, 4762.

-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, 3812.

-Year of the greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4411.

-Year from the Flood, according to Archbishop Usher, and the

English Bible, 2400.

-Year of the Cali yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3154.

-Year of the era of Iphitus, or since the first commencement

of the Olympic games, 992.

-Year of the Nabonassarean era, 799.

-Year of the era of the Seleucidae, 364.

-Year of the Spanish era, 90.

-Year of the Actiac or Actian era, 83.

-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 52.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Varro, 805.

-Year of the CCVIIth Olympiad, 4.

-Year of Ananias, high priest of the Jews, 8.

-Common Golden Number, 15.

-Jewish Golden Number, 12.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 5.

-Dominical Letters; it being Bissextile or Leap year, BA.

-Jewish Passover, April lst.

-Easter Sunday, April 2d.

-Epact, or the moon's age on the 22d of March, or the Xth of

the Calends of April, 4.

-Year of the reign of Claudius Caesar, the fifth emperor of the

Romans, 12.

-In the last year of Ventidius Cumanus, governor of the Jews.

-Year of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, 2.

-Year of Cains Numidius Quadratus, governor of Syria, 1.

-Roman Consuls; Publius Cornelius Sylla Faustus, and Lucius

Salvius Otho Titianus; and for the following year, viz. A. D.

53, (which is supposed by some to be the date of the epistle,)

Decimus Junius Silanus, and Quintus Haterius Antoninus.


St. Paul shows that he was especially called of God to be an

apostle, 1.

Directs his epistle to the Churches through the regions of

Galatia, 2.

Commends them to the grace of Christ, who gave himself for their

sins, 3-5.

Marvels that they had so soon turned away from the grace of the

Gospel of Christ, to what falsely pretended to be another

gospel, 6, 7.

Pronounces him accursed who shall preach any other doctrine than

that which he had delivered to them, 8, 9.

Shows his own uprightness, and that he received his doctrine

from God, 10-12.

Gives an account of his conversion and call to the apostleship,


How three years after his conversion he went up to Jerusalem,

and afterwards went through the regions of Syria and Cilicia,

preaching the faith of Christ to the great joy of the Christian

Churches in Judea, 18-24.


Verse 1. Paul, an apostle, not of men] Not commissioned by

any assembly or council of the apostles.

Neither by man] Nor by any one of the apostles; neither by

James, who seems to have been president of the apostolic council

at Jerusalem; nor by Peter, to whom, in a particular manner, the

keys of the kingdom were intrusted.

But by Jesus Christ] Having his mission immediately from Christ

himself, and God the Father who raised him from the dead, see

Ac 22:14, 15, and commanded him to go both to the Jews and to the

Gentiles, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light,

and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might obtain

remission of sins, and an inheritance among them that are

sanctified. See Ac 9:1, &c., and the notes there.

Verse 2. And all the brethren which are with me] It is very

likely that this refers to those who were his assistants in

preaching the Gospel, and not to any private members of the


Churches of Galatia] Galatia was a region or province of Asia

Minor; there was neither city nor town of this name. See the

preface. But as, in this province, St. Paul had planted several

Churches, he directs the epistle to the whole of them; for it

seems they were all pretty nearly in the same state, and needed

the same instructions.

Verse 3. Grace be to you, &c.] See Clarke on Ro 1:7.

Verse 4. Who gave himself for our sins] Who became a

sin-offering to God in behalf of mankind, that they might be saved

from their sins.

Deliver us from this present evil world] These words cannot

mean created nature, or the earth and its productions, nor even

wicked men. The former we shall need while we live, the latter we

cannot avoid; indeed they are those who, when converted, form the

Church of God; and, by the successive conversion of sinners is the

Church of Christ maintained; and the followers of God must live

and labour among them, in order to their conversion. The apostle,

therefore, must mean the Jews, and their system of carnal

ordinances; statutes which were not good, and judgments by which

they could not live; Eze 20:25; and the whole of their

ecclesiastical economy, which was a burden neither they nor their

fathers were able to bear, Ac 15:10.

Schoettgen contends that the word πονηρος, which we translate

evil, should be translated laborious or oppressive, as it comes

from πονοσ, labour, trouble, &c. The apostle takes occasion, in

the very commencement of the epistle, to inform the Galatians that

it was according to the will and counsel of God that circumcision

should cease, and all the other ritual parts of the Mosaic

economy; and that it was for this express purpose that Jesus

Christ gave himself a sacrifice for our sins, because the law

could not make the comers thereunto perfect. It had pointed out

the sinfulness of sin, in its various ordinances, washings, &c.;

and it had showed forth the guilt of sin in its numerous

sacrifices; but the common sense, even of its own votaries, told

them that it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats

should take away sin. A higher atonement was necessary; and when

God provided that, all its shadows and representations necessarily

ceased. See Clarke on Ga 4:3.

Verse 5. To whom be glory for ever] Let him have the glory to

whom alone it is due, for having delivered us from the present

evil world, and from all bondage to Mosaic rites and ceremonies.

Verse 6. I marvel that ye are so soon removed] It was a matter

of wonder to the apostle that a people, so soundly converted to

God, should have so soon made shipwreck of their faith. But

mutability itself has not a more apt subject to work upon than the

human heart; the alternate workings of different passions are

continually either changing the character, or giving it a

different colouring. Reason, not passion, the word of God,

not the sayings of men, should alone be consulted in the concerns

of our salvation.

From him that called you] The apostle seems here to mean

himself. HE called them into the grace of Christ; and they not

only abandoned that grace, but their hearts became greatly

estranged from him; so that, though at first they would have

plucked out their eyes for him, they at last counted him their

enemy, Ga 4:14-16.

Another gospel] It is certain that in the very earliest ages of

the Christian Church there were several spurious gospels in

circulation, and it was the multitude of these false or inaccurate

relations that induced St. Luke to write his own. See Lu 1:1.

We have the names of more than seventy of these spurious

narratives still on record, and in ancient writers many fragments

of them remain; these have been collected and published by

Fabricius, in his account of the apocryphal books of the New

Testament, 3 vols. 8vo. In some of these gospels, the necessity

of circumcision, and subjection to the Mosaic law in unity with

the Gospel, were strongly inculcated. And to one of these the

apostle seems to refer.

Verse 7. Which is not another] It is called a gospel, but it

differs most essentially from the authentic narratives published

by the evangelists. It is not gospel, i.e. good tidings, for it

loads you again with the burdens from which the genuine Gospel has

disencumbered you. Instead of giving you peace, it troubles you;

instead of being a useful supplement to the Gospel of Christ, it

perverts that Gospel. You have gained nothing but loss and damage

by the change.

Verse 8. But though we, or an angel] That Gospel which I have

already preached to you is the only true Gospel; were I to preach

any other, I should incur the curse of God. If your false

teachers pretend, as many in early times did, that they received

their accounts by the ministry of an angel, let them be accursed;

separate them from your company, and have no religious communion

with them. Leave them to that God who will show his displeasure

against all who corrupt, all who add to, and all who take from

the word of his revelation.

Let all those who, from the fickleness of their own minds, are

ready to favour the reveries of every pretended prophet and

prophetess who starts up, consider the awful words of the apostle.

As, in the law, the receiver of stolen goods is as bad as the

thief; so the encouragers of such pretended revelations are as

bad, in the sight of God, as those impostors themselves. What

says the word of God to them? Let them be accursed. Reader, lay

these things to heart.

Verse 9. Let him be accursed.] Perhaps this is not designed as

an imprecation, but a simple direction; for the word here may be

understood as implying that such a person should, have no

countenance in his bad work, but let him, as Theodoret expresses

it, αλλοτριοςεστωτουκοινουσωματοςτηςεκκλησιας, be separated

from the communion of the Church. This, however, would also imply

that unless the person repented, the Divine judgments would soon


Verse 10. Do I now persuade men, or God?] The words πειθειν

τονθεον may be rendered to court or solicit the favour of God as

the after clause sufficiently proves. This acceptation of πειθειν

is very common in Greek authors. While the apostle was a

persecutor of the Christians, he was the servant of men, and

pleased men. When he embraced the Christian doctrine, he became

the servant of GOD, and pleased HIM. He therefore intimates that

he was a widely different person now from what he had been while a


Verse 11. But I certify you, brethren, &c.] I wish you fully

to comprehend that the Gospel which I preached to you is not after

man; there is not a spark of human invention in it, nor the

slightest touch of human cunning.

Verse 12. I neither received it of man] By means of any

apostle, as was remarked Ga 1:1. No man taught me what I have

preached to you.

But by the revelation of Jesus Christ.] Being commissioned by

himself alone; receiving the knowledge of it from Christ


Verse 13. Ye have heard of my conversation] τηνεμην

αναστροφην. My manner of life; the mode in which I conducted


Beyond measure I persecuted the Church] For proofs of this the

reader is referred to Ac 9:1, 2; 22:4, and the notes there. The

apostle tells them that they had heard this, because, being Jews,

they were acquainted with what had taken place in Judea, relative

to these important transactions.

Verse 14. And profited in the Jews' religion] The apostle does

not mean that he became more exemplary in the love and practice of

the pure law of God than any of his countrymen, but that he was

more profoundly skilled in the traditions of the fathers than most

of his fellow students were, or, as the word συνηλικιωτας may mean

his contemporaries.

Verse 15. Who separated me from my mother's womb] Him whom I

acknowledge as the GOD of nature and the GOD of grace; who

preserved me by his providence when I was a helpless infant, and

saved me by his grace when I was an adult persecutor. For some

useful remarks on these passages see the introduction, sec. ii.

Verse 16. To reveal his Son in me] To make me know Jesus

Christ, and the power of his resurrection.

That I might preach him among the heathen] For it was to the

Gentiles, and the dispersed Jews among the Gentiles, that St. Paul

was especially sent. Peter was sent more particularly to the Jews

in the land of Judea; Paul to those in the different Greek


I conferred not with flesh and blood] I did not take counsel

with men; σαρξκαιαιμα, which is a literal translation of the

Hebrew basar vedam, flesh and blood, is a periphrasis for

man, any man, a human being, or beings of any kind. Many

suppose that the apostle means he did not dally, or take counsel,

with the erroneous suggestions and unrenewed propensities of his

own heart, or those of others; but no such thing is intended by

the text. St. Paul was satisfied that his call was of God; he had

therefore no occasion to consult man.

Verse 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem] The aim of the

apostle is to show that he had his call so immediately and

pointedly from God himself, that he had no need of the concurrence

even of the apostles, being appointed by the same authority, and

fitted to the work by the same grace and Spirit, as they were.

But I went into Arabia.] That part of Arabia which was

contiguous to Damascus, over which Aretas was then king. Of this

journey into Arabia we have no other account. As St. Luke was not

then with him, it is not inserted in the Acts of the Apostles.

See introduction to this epistle. Jerusalem was the stated

residence of the apostles; and, when all the other believers were

scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, we find the

apostles still remaining, unmolested, at Jerusalem! Ac 8:1.

Verse 18. After three years I went up to Jerusalem to see

Peter] These three years may be reckoned either from the

departure of Paul from Jerusalem, or from his return from Arabia

to Damascus.

To see Peter-ιστορησαιπετρος, to become personally acquainted

with Peter; for this is the proper import of the verb ιστορειν,

from which we have the word ιστορια, history, which signifies a

relation of things from personal knowledge and actual

acquaintance. How far this is, now, from the sense in which we

must take the word, ninety-nine of every hundred of our histories

sufficiently show. They are any thing but true relations of facts

and persons.

And abode with him fifteen days.] It was not, therefore, to get

religious knowledge from him that he paid him this visit. He knew

as much of the Jewish religion as Peter did, if not more; and as

to the Gospel, he received that from the same source, and had

preached it three years before this.

Verse 19. James the Lord's brother.] Dr. Paley observes: There

were at Jerusalem two apostles, or at least two eminent members of

the Church, of the name of James. This is distinctly inferred

from the Acts of the Apostles, Ac 12:2, where the historian

relates the death of James, the brother of John; and yet, in

Ac 15:13-21, and in Ac 21:18, he records a speech delivered by

James in the assembly of the apostles and elders. In this place

JAMES, the Lord's brother, is mentioned thus to distinguish him

from JAMES the brother of John. Some think there were three of

this name:-1. JAMES, our Lord's brother, or cousin, as some will

have it; 2. JAMES, the son of Alphaeus; and 3. JAMES, the son of

Zebedee. But the two former names belong to the same person.

Verse 20. Before God I lie not.] This he speaks in reference

to having seen only Peter and James at Jerusalem; and consequently

to prove that he had not learned the Gospel from the assembly of

the apostles at Jerusalem, nor consequently received his

commission from them.

Verse 21. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria, &c.]

The course of the apostle's travels, after his conversion, was

this: He went from Damascus to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem into

Syria and Cilicia. "At Damascus the disciples took him by night,

and let him down by the wall in a basket; and when Saul was come

to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples;"

Ac 9:25, 26. Afterwards, when the brethren knew the conspiracy

formed against him at Jerusalem, they brought him down to

Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus, a city of Cilicia,

Ac 9:30.

This account in the Acts agrees with that in this epistle.

Verse 22. And was unknown by face] I was not personally

acquainted with any of the Churches of Judea; I was converted in

another place, and had not preached the Gospel in any Christian

congregation in that country; I knew only those at Jerusalem.

Verse 23. They had heard only] As a persecutor of the Church

of Christ, I was well known; and as a convert to Christ I was not

less so. The fame of both was great, even where I was personally


Verse 24. They glorified God in me.] Hearing now that I

preached that faith which before I had persecuted and endeavoured

to destroy, they glorified God for the grace which had wrought my

conversion. I owe nothing to them; I owe all to God; and they

themselves acknowledge this. I received all from God, and God has

all the glory.

1. IT appeared of great importance to St. Paul to defend and

vindicate his Divine mission. As he had none from man, it was the

more necessary that he should be able to show plainly that he had

one from God. Paul was not brought into the Christian ministry by

any rite ever used in the Christian Church. Neither bishop nor

presbyter ever laid hands on him; and he is more anxious to prove

this, because his chief honour arose from being sent immediately

by God himself: his conversion and the purity of his doctrine

showed whence he came. Many since his time, and in the present

day, are far more anxious to show that they are legitimately

appointed by MAN than by GOD; and are fond of displaying their

human credentials. These are easily shown; those that come from

God are out of their reach. How idle and vain is a boasted

succession from the apostles, while ignorance, intolerance, pride,

and vain-glory prove that those very persons have no commission

from heaven! Endless cases may occur where man sends and yet God

will not sanction. And that man has no right to preach, nor

administer the sacraments of the Church of Christ, whom God has

not sent; though the whole assembly of apostles had laid their

hands on him. God never sent, and never will send, to convert

others, a man who is not converted himself. He will never send

him to teach meekness, gentleness, and long suffering, who is

proud, overbearing, intolerant, and impatient. He, in whom the

Spirit of Christ does not dwell, never had a commission to preach

the Gospel; he may boast of his human authority, but God will

laugh him to scorn. On the other hand, let none run before he is

sent; and when he has got the authority of God, let him be careful

to take that of the Church with him also.

2. The apostle was particularly anxious that the Gospel should

not be corrupted, that the Church might not be perverted.

Whatever corrupts the GOSPEL, subverts the CHURCH. The Church is

a spiritual building, and stands on a spiritual foundation. Its

members are compared to stones in a building, but they are living

stones-each instinct with the spirit of a Divine life; Jesus is

not only the foundation and the head-stone, but the spirit that

quickens and animates all. A Church, where the members are not

alive to God, and where the minister is not filled with the

meekness and gentleness of Jesus, differs as much from a genuine

Church as a corpse does from an active human being. False

teachers in Galatia corrupted the Church, by introducing those

Jewish ceremonies which God had abolished; and the doctrine of

justification by the use of those ceremonies which God had shown

by the death of his Son to be of none effect. "If those," says

Quesnel, "are justly said to pervert the Gospel of Christ, who

were for joining with it human ceremonies which God himself

instituted, what do those do, who would fondly reconcile and blend

it with the pomps of the devil? The purity of the Gospel cannot

admit of any mixture. Those who do not love it, are so far from

building up that they trouble and overturn all. There is no

ground of trust and confidence for such workmen."

3. If he be a dangerous man in the Church who introduces Jewish

or human ceremonies which God has not appointed, how much more is

he to be dreaded who introduces any false doctrine, or who labours

to undermine or lessen the influence of that which is true?

And even he who does not faithfully and earnestly preach and

inculcate the true doctrine is not a true pastor. It is not

sufficient that a man preach no error; he must preach the truth,

the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

4. How is it that we have so many Churches like those in

Galatia? Is it not because, on one hand, we disturb the

simplicity of the Christian worship by Jewish, heathenish, or

improper rites and ceremonies; and on the other, corrupt the

purity of its doctrines by the inventions of men? How does the

apostle speak of such corrupters? Let them be accursed. How

awful is this! Let every man who officiates as a Christian

minister look well to this. His own soul is at stake; and, if any

of the flock perish through his ignorance or neglect, their blood

will God require at the watchman's hand.

5. St. Paul well knew that, if he endeavoured to please man, he

could not be the servant of Christ. Can any minor minister hope

to succeed, where even an apostle, had he followed that line,

could not? The interests of Christ and those of the world are so

opposite, that it is impossible to reconcile them; and he who

attempts it shows thereby that he knows neither Christ nor the

world, though so deeply immersed in the spirit of the latter.

6. God generally confounds the expectations of men-pleasing

ministers; they never ultimately succeed even with men. God

abhors them, and those whom they have flattered find them to be

dishonest, and cease to trust them. He who is unfaithful to his

God should not be trusted by man.

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