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4: 12 - 5: 6.
pp. 151 - 156
The Apostle Paul now gives a personal appeal to the Galatian believers, referring to
their past love, their present zeal and the evil influence of the Judaizers which was taking
them back from freedom to bondage.
The Apostle assures them that, rather than feeling they had injured him at all, he
entertained the warmest recollection of the way they had received him:
". . . . . ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I
preached the gospel unto you at the first" (Gal. 4: 12, 13).
There is the possibility that this illness is synonymous with Paul's thorn in the flesh
(II Cor. 12: 7). On the other hand it could read "the trial that you endured through the
condition of my body". Whatever the ailment was, it was not only incapacitating, but
also unsightly yet they resisted any temptation to show disgust with his appearance.
"And my temptation (trial) which was in my flesh ye despised not nor rejected; but
received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus" (4: 14).
The word translated "reject" is ekptuo, literally "to spit out", suggesting that the
sickness which had fallen on Paul rendered him objectionable to look at.
"What happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you
would have torn out your eyes and given them to me" (4: 15, N.I.V.).
What was the illness which was afflicting Paul? There have been scores of guesses by
expositors, but surely the Apostle has given us a clue here. Why should the Galatians
have been ready to hand over their eyes to him, could they have done so, if his eyesight
had been normal? There would have been no point in using such a phrase. There can be
little doubt that Paul suffered from some form of eye disease that possibly was prevalent
in the East, and occurred through the weakness left by the overwhelming vision he had
received on the road to Damascus which occasioned blindness with such a disease,
accompanied by a constant discharge, he would have been very conscious of the
spectacle he presented. Yet this had not affected the Galatians. Rather they had joyfully
received him as though he was an angel sent by God or even Christ Himself. With this in
mind he adds:
"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (4: 16).
Verses 17 and 18 deal with the troublers who were upsetting believers. The A.V. is
certainly not clear and we give the N.I.V. rendering: