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    1. The oldest manuscripts read, "in liberty (so ALFORD, MOBERLEY, HUMPHRY, and ELLICOTT. But as there is no Greek for 'in,' as there is in translating in 1Co 16:13; Php 1:27; 4:1, I prefer 'It is FOR freedom that') Christ hath made us free (not in, or for, a state of bondage). Stand fast, therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage" (namely, the law, Ga 4:24; Ac 15:10). On "again," see on Ga 4:9.

    2. Behold--that is, Mark what I say.
    - I Paul--Though you now think less of my authority, I nevertheless give my name and personal authority as enough by itself to refute all opposition of adversaries.
    - if ye be circumcised--not as ALFORD, "If you will go on being circumcised." Rather, "If ye suffer yourselves to be circumcised," namely, under the notion of its being necessary to justification (Ga 5:4; Ac 15:1). Circumcision here is not regarded simply by itself (for, viewed as a mere national rite, it was practiced for conciliation's sake by Paul himself, Ac 16:3), but as the symbol of Judaism and legalism in general. If this be necessary, then the Gospel of grace is at an end. If the latter be the way of justification, then Judaism is in no way so.
    - Christ . . . profit . . . nothing-- (Ga 2:21). For righteousness of works and justification by faith cannot co-exist. "He who is circumcised [for justification] is so as fearing the law, and he who fears, disbelieves the power of grace, and he who disbelieves can profit nothing by that grace which he disbelieves [CHRYSOSTOM].

    3. For--Greek, "Yea, more"; "Moreover."
    - I testify . . . to every man--as well as "unto you" (Ga 5:2).
    - that is circumcised--that submits to be circumcised. Such a one became a "proselyte of righteousness."
    - the whole law--impossible for man to keep even in part, much less wholly (Jas 2:10); yet none can be justified by the law, unless he keep it wholly (Ga 3:10).

    4. Literally, "Ye have become void from Christ," that is, your connection with Christ has become void (Ga 5:2). Ro 7:2, "Loosed from the law," where the same Greek occurs as here.
    - whosoever of you are justified--"are being justified," that is, are endeavoring to be justified.
    - by the law--Greek, "IN the law," as the element in which justification is to take place.
    - fallen from grace--Ye no longer "stand" in grace (Ro 5:2). Grace and legal righteousness cannot co-exist (Ro 4:4, 5; 11:6). Christ, by circumcision (Lu 2:21), undertook to obey all the law, and fulfil all righteousness for us: any, therefore, that now seeks to fulfil the law for himself in any degree for justifying righteousness, severs himself from the grace which flows from Christ's fulfilment of it, and becomes "a debtor to do the whole law" (Ga 5:3). The decree of the Jerusalem council had said nothing so strong as this; it had merely decided that Gentile Christians were not bound to legal observances. But the Galatians, while not pretending to be so bound, imagined there was an efficacy in them to merit a higher degree of perfection (Ga 3:3). This accounts for Paul not referring to the decree at all. He took much higher ground. See PALEY'S Horæ Paulinæ. The natural mind loves outward fetters, and is apt to forge them for itself, to stand in lieu of holiness of heart.

    5. For--proof of the assertion, "fallen from grace," by contrasting with the case of legalists, the "hope" of Christians.
    - through the Spirit--Greek, rather, "by the Spirit": in opposition to by the flesh (Ga 4:29), or fleshly ways of justification, as circumcision and legal ordinances. "We" is emphatical, and contrasted with "whosoever of you would be justified by the law" (Ga 5:4).
    - the hope of righteousness--"We wait for the (realization of the) hope (which is the fruit) of the righteousness (that is, justification which comes) by (literally, 'from--out of') faith," Ro 5:1, 4, 5; 8:24, 25, "Hope . . . we with patience wait for it." This is a farther step than being "justified"; not only are we this, but "wait for the hope" which is connected with it, and is its full consummation. "Righteousness," in the sense of justification, is by the believer once for all already attained: but the consummation of it in future perfection above is the object of hope to be waited for: "the crown of righteousness laid up" (2Ti 4:8): "the hope laid up for you in heaven" (Col 1:5; 1Pe 1:3).

    6. For--confirming the truth that it is "by faith" (Ga 5:5).
    - in Jesus Christ--Greek, "in Christ Jesus." In union with Christ (the ANOINTED Saviour), that is, Jesus of Nazareth.
    - nor uncircumcision--This is levelled against those who, being not legalists, or Judaizers, think themselves Christians on this ground alone.
    - faith which worketh by love--Greek, "working by love." This corresponds to "a new creature" (Ga 6:15), as its definition. Thus in Ga 5:5, 6, we have the three, "faith," "hope," and "love." The Greek expresses, "Which effectually worketh"; which exhibits its energy by love (so 1Th 2:13). Love is not joined with faith in justifying, but is the principle of the works which follow after justification by faith. Let not legalists, upholding circumcision, think that the essence of the law is set at naught by the doctrine of justification by faith only. Nay, "all the law is fulfilled in one word--love," which is the principle on which "faith worketh" (Ga 5:14). Let them, therefore, seek this "faith," which will enable them truly to fulfil the law. Again, let not those who pride themselves on uncircumcision think that, because the law does not justify, they are free to walk after "the flesh" (Ga 5:13). Let them, then, seek that "love" which is inseparable from true faith (Jas 2:8, 12-22). Love is utterly opposed to the enmities which prevailed among the Galatians (Ga 5:15, 20). The Spirit (Ga 5:5) is a Spirit of "faith" and "love" (compare Ro 14:17; 1Co 7:19).

    7. Translate, "Ye were running well" in the Gospel race (1Co 9:24-26; Php 3:13, 14).
    - who, &c.--none whom you ought to have listened to [BENGEL]: alluding to the Judaizers (compare Ga 3:1).
    - hinder--The Greek means, literally, "hinder by breaking up a road."
    - not obey the truth--not submit yourselves to the true Gospel way of justification.

    8. This persuasion--Greek, "The persuasion," namely, to which you are yielding. There is a play on words in the original, the Greek for persuasion being akin to "obey" (Ga 5:7). This persuasion which ye have obeyed.
    - cometh not of--that is "from." Does not emanate from Him, but from an enemy.
    - that calleth you-- (Ga 5:13; Ga 1:6; Php 3:14; 1Th 5:24). The calling is the rule of the whole race [BENGEL].

    9. A little leaven--the false teaching of the Judaizers. A small portion of legalism, if it be mixed with the Gospel, corrupts its purity. To add legal ordinances and works in the least degree to justification by faith, is to undermine "the whole." So "leaven" is used of false doctrine (Mt 16:12: compare Mt 13:33). In 1Co 5:6 it means the corrupting influence of one bad person; so BENGEL understands it here to refer to the person (Ga 5:7, 8, 10) who misled them. Ec 9:18, "One sinner destroyeth much good" (1Co 15:33). I prefer to refer it to false doctrine, answering to "persuasion" (Ga 5:8).

    10. Greek, "I (emphatical: 'I on my part') have confidence in the Lord with regard to you (2Th 3:4), that ye will be none otherwise minded" (than what by this Epistle I desire you to be, Php 3:15).
    - but he that troubleth you-- (Ga 1:7; Ac 15:24; Jos 7:25; 1Ki 18:17, 18). Some one, probably, was prominent among the seducers, though the denunciation applies to them all (Ga 1:7; 4:17).
    - shall bear--as a heavy burden.
    - his--his due and inevitable judgment from God. Paul distinguishes the case of the seduced, who were misled through thoughtlessness, and who, now that they are set right by him, he confidently hopes, in God's goodness, will return to the right way, from that of the seducer who is doomed to judgment.
    - whosoever he be--whether great (Ga 1:8) or small.

    11. Translate, "If I am still preaching (as I did before conversion) circumcision, why am I still persecuted?" The Judaizing troubler of the Galatians had said, "Paul himself preaches circumcision," as is shown by his having circumcised Timothy (Ac 16:3; compare also Ac 20:6; 21:24). Paul replies by anticipation of their objection, As regards myself, the fact that I am still persecuted by the Jews shows plainly that I do not preach circumcision; for it is just because I preach Christ crucified, and not the Mosaic law, as the sole ground of justification, that they persecute me. If for conciliation he lived as a Jew among the Jews, it was in accordance with his principle enunciated (1Co 7:18, 20; 9:20). Circumcision, or uncircumcision, are things indifferent in themselves: their lawfulness or unlawfulness depends on the animus of him who uses them. The Gentile Galatians' animus in circumcision could only be their supposition that it influenced favorably their standing before God. Paul's living as a Gentile among Gentiles, plainly showed that, if he lived as a Jew among Jews, it was not that he thought it meritorious before God, but as a matter indifferent, wherein he might lawfully conform as a Jew by birth to those with whom he was, in order to put no needless stumbling-block to the Gospel in the way of his countrymen.
    - then--Presuming that I did so, "then," in that case, "the offense of (stumbling-block, 1Co 1:23 occasioned to the Jews by) the cross has become done away." Thus the Jews' accusation against Stephen was not that he preached Christ crucified, but that "he spake blasphemous words against this holy place and the law." They would, in some measure, have borne the former, if he had mixed with it justification in part by circumcision and the law, and if he had, through the medium of Christianity, brought converts to Judaism. But if justification in any degree depended on legal ordinances, Christ's crucifixion in that degree was unnecessary, and could profit nothing (Ga 5:2, 4). Worldly Wiseman, of the town of Carnal Policy, turns Christian out of the narrow way of the Cross, to the house of Legality. But the way to it was up a mountain, which, as Christian advanced, threatened to fall on him and crush him, amidst flashes of lightning from the mountain [BUNYAN, Pilgrim's Progress] (Heb 12:18-21).

    12. they . . . which trouble you--Translate, as the Greek is different from Ga 5:10, "they who are unsettling you."
    - were even cut off--even as they desire your foreskin to be cut off and cast away by circumcision, so would that they were even cut off from your communion, being worthless as a castaway foreskin (GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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