VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
The last words of chapter iii, "heirs according to the promise," are now further discussed. It is shown that the capability of heirship, which was first conferred through Christ, could not enter earlier into the history of mankind, because mankind was still in its minority; and its majority, its sonship, was first entered upon through Christ. The way of the law was not, as the Jews supposed, a direct way to the fulfillment of the divine promise. At the same time, it did not utterly lead away from the true goal. It was a roundabout way to it. Sabatier (l' Apotre Paul) observes: "The law is neither absolutely identical with the promise, nor absolutely opposed to it. It is not the negation of the promise, but is distinct from it and subordinate to it. Its final purpose lies in the promise itself. It is an essential but transitional element in the historical development of humanity. It must disappear on attaining its goal. 'Christ is the end of the law.'" But why was this way necessary? Why did not God open the way of faith leading to the inheritance of the promise immediately after the promise was given? The answer to this was indicated in iii. 24-26. It is now given more fully.
The heir (o klhronomov). See on inheritance, 1 Pet. i. 4. The article is generic as in the mediator, chapter iii. 20.
A child (nhpiov). A minor. See on 1 Cor. iii. 1. Used by Paul in contrast with teleiov full grown. See Eph. iv. 13; 1 Corinthians xiv. 20; Philip. iii. 15. The Jews called proselytes or novices babes. See Rom. ii. 20.
Lord of all. Legally, by right of birth, though not actually.
Govenors (oikonomouv) Better stewards. Lat. dispensatores. More special than guardians, signifying those who had charge of the heir's property. See on Luke xvi. 1. In later Greek it was used in two special senses:
The time appointed (proqesmiav). N.T.o . o LXX. In Athenian law the term limited for bringing actions and prosecutions. Proqesmiav nomov a statute of limitations. It was also applied to the time allowed a defendant for paying damages, after the expiration of which, if he had not paid, he was called uJperhmerov, or ejkproqesmov, or uJperproqesmov one who had gone over his day of payment. Whether Paul's figure assumes that the father is dead or living is a point which does not affect his argument. It is not easy to decide. As Alford justly remarks: "the antitype breaks through the type and disturbs it, as is the case wherever the idea of inheritance is spiritualised." Proqesmia an appointed time for the termination of the minority, would seem to imply that the father is conceived as living; since, if he were dead, that matter would be regulated by statute. 67
Elements of the world (ta stoiceia tou kosmou). For the word stoiceia in N.T. see Col. ii. 8, 20; Hebrew v. 12; 2 Pet. iii. 10, 12. See on 2 Pet. iii. 10. Interpretations differ.
In the Revelation of John we find four angels of the winds (xiv. 18); the angel of the waters (xvi. 5); the age in the sun (xix. 17). In Hebrew i. 7 we read, "who maketh his angels winds." Paul also recognizes elemental forces of the spiritual world. The thorn is "a messenger of Satan" (2 Corinthians xii. 7); Satan prevents his journey to Thessalonica (1 Thess. ii. 18); the Corinthian offender is to be "delivered to Satan" (1 Cor. v. 5); the Kingdom of God is opposed by "principalities and powers" (1 Corinthians xv. 24); Christians wrestle against "the rulers of the darkness of this world; against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the upper regions" (Eph. vi. 12). In this passage the elements of the world are compared with overseers and stewards. This would seem to require a personal interpretation. In verse 8, "did service to them which by nature are no gods," appears to be = "in bondage under the elements," suggesting a personal interpretation of the latter. The Galatians had turned again to the observance of times and seasons (verse 10), which were controlled by the heavenly bodies and their spirits. 68
Under the law. The earthly being of Christ began under the law. He was not only of human birth, but of Jewish birth; subjected to all the ordinances of the law, as circumcision for instance, like any other Jewish boy.
The adoption (thn uioqesian). P o . See on Rom. viii. 15, and comp. Rom. ix. 4; Eph. i. 5. Not sonship, but sonship conferred.
The Spirit of his Son. The Holy Spirit which animated Jesus in his human life, and which, in the risen Christ, is the life-principle of believers. See 1 Cor. xv. 45, and comp. Rom. viii. 9-11. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ, Rom. viii. 9, 10, where Paul uses Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ and Christ as convertible terms. The phrase Spirit of Jesus Christ only Philip. i. 19. In John iii. 34 Christ is represented as dispensing the Spirit. He is fully endowed with the Spirit (Mark i. 10; John i. 32): he sends the Spirit from the Father to the disciples, and he is the burden of the Spirit's testimony (John xv. 26; xvi. 7, 9, 10, 15). The Paraclete is given in answer to Christ's prayer (John xiv. 16). Christ identifies his own coming and presence with those of the Spirit (John xiv. 17, 18). Paul identifies him personally with the Spirit (2 Corinthians iii. 17).
Our hearts. Note the interchange of persons: we might receive, ye are sons, our hearts. Comp. Rom. vii. 4.
Crying (krazon). A strong word, expressing deep emotion. The verb originally represents the sound of a croak or harsh scream; thence, generally, an inarticulate cry; an exclamation of fear or pain. The cry of an animal. So Aristoph. Knights, 1017, of the barking of a dog: 285, 287, of two men in a quarrel, trying to bawl each other down: Frogs, 258, of the croaking of frogs. This original sense appears in N.T. usage, as Matthew xiv. 26; xv. 23; xxvii. 50; Mark v. 5, etc., and is recognized even where the word is used in connection with articulate speech, by adding to it the participles legwn, legontev saying, or didaskwn teaching. See Matt. viii. 29; xv. 22; Mark iii. 11; John vii. 28, etc. In Mark x. 47 the inarticulate cry and the articulate utterance are distinguished. At the same time, the word is often used of articulate speech without such additions, as Mark x. 48; xi. 9; xv. 13, 14; Luke xviii. 39; Acts vii. 60; xix. 34; Rom. viii. 15. It falls into more dignified association in LXX, where it is often used of prayer or appeal to God, as Judg. iii. 9, 15; iv. 3; vi. 7; Psalm xxi. 2, 5; xxvii. 1, liv. 16; and in N.T., where it is applied to solemn, prophetic utterance, as Romans ix. 27; John i. 15, and is used of Jesus himself, as John vii. 28, 37; xii. 44, and of the Holy Spirit, as here. The Spirit gives the inspiration of which the believer is the organ. In Rom. viii. 15 the statement is inverted. The believer cries under the power of the Spirit.
Abba, Father. Comp. Mark xiv. 36; Rom. viii. 15. O pathr the Father, is not added in order to explain the Aramaic Abba for Greek readers. Rather the whole phrase Abba oJ pathr had passed into the early Christian prayers, the Aramaic title by which Christ addressed his Father (Mark xiv. 36) being very early united with the Greek synonym. Such combinations of Hebrew and Greek addresses having the same meaning were employed in rabbinical writings. Comp. also Apoc. ix. 11; xii. 9.
Then an heir (kai klhronomov). Kai marks the logical sequence. Comp. Rom. viii. 17. The figure is based upon Roman, not upon Jewish, law. According to Roman law, all the children, sons and daughters, inherited alike. According to Jewish law, the inheritance of the sons was unequal, and the daughters were excluded, except where there were no male heirs. Thus the Roman law furnished a more truthful illustration of the privileges of Christians. Comp. chapter iii. 28.
Of God through Christ. The correct reading is dia qeou through God, omitting Christ.
Knew not God. See on 2 Thess. i. 8.
Ye did service (edouleusate). Better, were in bondage or were slaves. By nature (fusei). Not denying their existence (comp. 1 Cor. viii. 5) but their deity. Emphasis on by nature. Comp. 1 Cor. x. 20.
How (pwv). "A question full of wonder" (Bengel). Comp. I marvel, chapter i. 6.
Turn ye again (epistrefete palin). Better, the continuous present, are ye turning, as of a change still in progress. Comp. chapter i. 6. Palin again, according to N.T. usage, and corresponding with palin anwqen in the following clause. Not back, which is the earlier sense and the usual classical meaning.
Weak and beggarly elements (asqenh kai ptwca stoiceia). For elements see on verse 3. For ptwca beggarly, see on Matt. v. 3. The two adjectives express the utter impotence of these "elements" to do and to bestow what was done and given by God in sending his Son into the world. Comp. Rom. viii. 3; Hebrew vii. 18.
Again (palin anwqen). Anwqen (anw above) adds to palin the idea of going back to the beginning. Its primary meaning is from above; thence, from the first, reckoning in a descending series. So Luke i. 3; Acts xxvi. 5. 71 Such combinations as this are not uncommon in N.T. and Class. See, for instance, Acts xviii. 21; Matt. xxvi. 42; Acts x. 15; John xxi. 16. But these additions to palin are not pleonastic. They often define and explain it. Thus, John xxi. 16, palin marks the repetition of Jesus' question, deuteron the number of the repetition. He asked again, and this was the second time of asking.
Ye desire (qelete). It was more than a mere desire. They were bent on putting themselves again into bondage. See on Matt. i. 19.
Months. Sacred months. Comp. Isa. lxvi. 23. In the preexilic time the months were mostly not named but numbered first, second, third, etc., and this usage appears also in the post-exilic writings of the O.T. Only four months had special names: the first, Abib, the ear month, which marked the beginning of harvest (Exod. xiii. 4; xxiii. 15; xxxiv. 18): the second, Sif or Zīv, the flower month (1 Kings vi. 1, 37): the seventh, Ethanum, the month of streaming rivers fed by the autumnal rains (1 Kings viii. 2): the eighth, Bul, the month of rain (1 Kings vi. 38). In the post-exilic time names for all the months came into use, the most of which appear in the Palmyrene inscriptions and among the Syrians. According to the Talmud, the returning Jews brought these names from Babylon. The names of all are found in a month table discovered at Nineveh. Nīsan corresponds to Abib (Nehemaih ii. 1; Esther iii. 7), answering to the latter part of March and April. Jjar answered to Ziv (Targ. 2 Chron. xxx. 2), our May. Tisri to Ethanim, the seventh month of the ecclesiastical, and the first of the civil year, corresponding to October. Marcheschwan (see Joseph. Ant. i. 3, 3) answered to Bul and November. Tisri, being the seventh or sabbatical month, was peculiarly sacred, and the fourth (Sivan, June), fifth (Ab, August), and tenth (Tebeth, January) were distinguished by special fasts. Times (kairouv). Better, seasons. See on Matt. xii. 1; Eph. i. 10, and comp. Lev. xxiii. 4. The holy, festal seasons, as Passover Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles. See 2 Chron. viii. 13.
Years (eniautouv). Sabbatical years, occurring every seventh year. Not years of Jubilee, which had ceased to be celebrated after the time of Solomon.
Upon you (eiv umav). Lit. into you. The labor, though in vain, had born directly upon its object. See the same phrase Rom. xvi. 6.
In vain (eikh). Comp. chapter iii. 4; 1 Cor. xv. 2, and eijv to no purpose, Philip. ii. 16; 2 Cor. vi. 1; Gal. ii. 2; 1 Thessalonians iii. 5. After all my labor, you may return to Judaism. Luther says: "These words of Paul breathe tears."
I am as ye are (kagw wv egw). Rather, I became. Supply ejgenomhn or gegona. Become as I am, for I became a Gentile like you. Comp.
Philip. iii. 7, 8. For the phrase ginesqai wJv to become as, see Matt. vi. 16; Rom. ix. 29; 1 Cor. iv. 13; ix. 20-22.
Ye have not injured me at all (ouden me hdikhsate). This translation misses the force of the aorist, and conveys a wrong impression, that Paul, up to this time, had received no wrong at the hands of the Galatians. This was not true. The reference is to his earlier relations with the Galatians, and is explained by vv. 13, 14. Rend. ye did not injure me at all. Ye did not injure me then, do not do so now.
Through infirmity (di asqeneian). On account of infirmity. Referring to the fact that Paul, in his first journey, was compelled by sickness to remain in Galatia, and preached to the Galatians during this enforced sojourn. This fact made their kindly reception the more commendable. 73 At the first (to proteron). Either generally, at an earlier time than the present (as John vi. 62; ix. 8; 1 Tim. i. 13), or the first time (as Hebrews vii. 27). Here in the latter sense. Paul had visited the Galatians twice before he wrote this letter.
Ye despised not nor rejected (ouk exouqenhsate oude exeptusate). Commonly explained by making both verbs govern your temptation. Thus the meaning would be: "You were tempted to treat my preaching contemptuously because of my bodily infirmity; but you did not despise nor reject that which was a temptation to you." This is extremely far fetched, awkward, and quite without parallel in Paul's writings or elsewhere. It does not suit the following but received me, etc. It lays the stress on the Galatians' resistance of a temptation to despise Paul; whereas the idea of a temptation is incidental. On this construction we should rather expect Paul to say: "Ye did despise and repudiate this temptation." Better, make your temptation, etc., dependent on ye know (verse 13); place a colon after flesh, and make both verbs govern me in the following clause. Rend. "Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you the first time, and (ye know) your temptation which was in my flesh: ye did not despise nor reject me, but received me." The last clause thus forms one of a series of short and detached clauses beginning with verse 10. Ouk ejxouqenhsate ye did not set at nought, from oujden nothing. The form oujqen occurs Luke xxii. 35; xxiii. 14; Acts xix. 27; xxvi. 26; 1 Cor. xiii. 2; 2; Corinthians xi. 8. For the compound here, comp. Luke xviii. 9; xxiii. 11; Acts iv. 11; 2 Cor. x. 10. o Class. Exeptusate spurned, N.T.o . Lit. spat out. A strong metaphor, adding the idea of contempt to that of setting at nought. Comp. Hom. Od. v. 322; Aristoph. Wasps, 792. The two verbs express contemptuous indifference. Emesai to vomit, as a figure of contemptuous rejection, is found in Apoc. iii. 16. The simple ptuein to spit only in the literal sense in N.T. Mark vii. 33; viii. 23; John ix. 6, and no other compound occurs.
As an angel. Bengel says: "The flesh, infirmity, temptation, are known to angels; wherefore to receive as an angel is to receive with great veneration." As Jesus Christ. With even higher honor than an angel. Comp. Matthew x. 40; John xiii. 20.
Plucked out (exoruxantev). Lit. dug out. Only here, and Mark ii. 4, of digging up the roof in order to let down the paralytic before Jesus. Your own eyes (touv ofqalmouv umwn). Better, your eyes. Eyes, as most treasured possessions. Comp. Psalm xvii. 8; Prov. vii. 2; Zechariah ii. 8. Some have found here evidence that Paul was afflicted with disease of the eyes. See Dr. John Brown's Horae Subsecivae. Accordingly they explain these words, "You would have given me your own eyes to replace mine." But uJmwn is unemphatic, your. All attempts to connect the passage with Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corninthians vii. 7) are to be dismissed as fanciful.
Your enemy (ecqrov umwn).'Ecqrov enemy, in an active sense, as is shown by the next clause. Not passive, an object of hatred, which would have the pronoun in the dative.
Because I tell you the truth (alhqeuwn umin).'Alhqeuein, only here and Eph. iv. 15, means to speak the truth or to deal truly. The present participle refers to the same time as gegona I am become, the time of his second visit. The clause is usually construed as interrogative (A.V.). It is rather a direct statement with a slight interrogative suggestion. "So then, I am become your enemy, am I."
"In brief, sir, study what you most affect." Ben Johnson, Alchem. iii. 2:
"Pray him aloud to name what dish he affects." As a noun, desire. So Chaucer, Troil. and Cress. iii. 1391: "As Crassus dide for his affectis wronge" (his wrong desires). Comp. 1 Cor. xii. 31; xiv. 1.
Not well (ou kalwv). Not in an honorable way.
Nay (alla). So far from dealing honorably.
They would exclude you (ekkleisai umav qelousin). From other teachers who do not belong to their party - those of anti-Judaising views who formed the sounder part of the church.
That ye might affect them (ina autouv zhloute). So that in your isolation from others, you might be led to seek affiliation with them.
I travail in birth again (palin wdinw). Better as Rev. of whom I am again in travail. Wdinw only here and Apoc. xii. 2. Gal. iv. 27 is a quotation. The metaphorical use of the word is frequent in O.T. See Psalm vii. 14; Sir. xix. 11; xxxi. 5; lxiii. 17; Micah iv. 10; Isa. xxvi. 18; lxvi. 8. Paul means that he is for the second time laboring and distressed for the Galatian converts, with the same anguish which attended his first efforts for their conversion. The metaphor of begetting children in the gospel is found in 1 Cor. iv. 15; Philemon 10. It was a Jewish saying: "If one teaches the son of his neighbor the law, the Scripture reckons this the same as though he had begotten him."
Until Christ be formed in you (mecriv ou morfwqh Cristov en umin). The forming of Christ in them, their attainment of the complete inner life of Christians, is the object of the new birth. By their relapse they have retarded this result and renewed Paul's spiritual travail. The verb morfoun N.T.o . The idea under different aspects is common. See Romans viii. 9; 1 Cor. ii. 16; v. 15; 2 Cor. iii. 18; Gal. ii. 20; Eph. iii. 17; Col. i. 27.
To change my voice (allaxai thn fwnhn mou). To address you, not with my former severity, so as to make you think me your enemy, but affectionately, as a mother speaks to her children, yet still telling them the truth (alhqeuwn).
I stand in doubt of you (aporoumai en umin). Lit. I am perplexed in you. For this use of ejn, comp. 2 Cor. vii. 16; Gal. i. 24. Paul's perplexity is conceived as taking place in the readers. For the verb, see on Mark vi. 20; 2 Cor. iv. 8. Paul means: "I am puzzled how to deal with you; how to find entrance to your hearts.
21-31. Paul now defends the principle of Christian freedom from the law by means of an allegorical interpretation of the history of Abraham's two sons. He meets the Jusaisers on their own Old Testament ground, going back to the statement of chapter iii. 7.
Desire (qelontev). Are bent on being under the law. See on verse 9. Under the law (upo nomon). For nomov with and without the article, see on Rom. ii. 12. Here, unquestionably, of the Mosaic law.
Hear (akouete). (Do ye not) hear what the law really says: listen to it so as to catch its real meaning? Comp. 1 Cor. xiv. 2; LXX, Genesis xi. 7; Deut. xxviii. 49. 75 The law (ton nomon). In a different sense, referring to the O.T. For a similar double sense see Rom. iii. 19. For nomov as a designation of the O.T. generally, see 1 Cor. xiv. 21; John x. 24; xi. 34; xv. 25.
A bondmaid (thv paidiskhv). The bondmaid, indicating a well known character, Hagar, Gen. xvi. 3. The word in Class. means also a free maiden; but in N.T. always a slave. So almost always in LXX; but see Ruth iv. 12; Judith xii. 13.
After the flesh (kata sarka). According to the regular course of nature. Very common in Paul.
By promise (di epaggeliav). Most editors retain the article, the promise of Gen. xvii. 16, 19; xviii. 10. Comp. Rom. ix. 9. In virtue of the promise; for according to natural conditions he would not have been born.