20/09/20 – Galatians 4:15-20


Galatians 4:15Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if [it had been] possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.


the blessednessmakarismos (declaration of blessedness; utter a declaration of blessedness upon one; to pronounce one blessed)

It is used 3 times in the NT. It is associated with the condition of a person who has been declared righteous by God without any works being taken into account.

Romans 4:6-76Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7[Saying], Blessed [are] they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.


ye spake of” is not actually in the original Greek yet I can find no version with these words in italics. It is therefore assumed to be implied by the context.  So “What has become of that blessedness (you once experienced)?” This is that blessedness that they once gave every indication of having experienced, but it wasn’t evident now.


I bear you recordmartyreo (be a witness; affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something; to give a good report) Translated “do testify” in 1 John 4:14And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world. Our word “martyr” (one who bears testimony to faith) comes from this Greek term.


Paul testifies as fact that they would have plucked out their own eyes to give to him. It is suggested that this may have been due to an eye problem Paul had. This is certainly likely. However, while he probably did have such a problem, it is not confirmed that this problem is actually being focused on here. Therefore, we’ll focus on the extreme enthusiasm (and gratitude) that would have caused such an act.


There was a time, says Paul, when you considered me (“my presence” implied) to be the cause of great blessing (or happiness). In fact, according to Paul, they would have even plucked out their own eyes and given them to him, had he asked, such was the blessedness that they had once experienced. It was clear to Paul that they no longer felt the same enthusiasm for Paul’s words as they had at the first. The honeymoon was clearly over!


Galatians 4:16Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?


enemyechthros (hated; odious; hateful; hostile; opposing; an enemy; a hostile one)


I tell ….. the truth” is one word, aletheuo.


Paul is throwing a logical problem at them: Do you hate me simply because I tell you the truth? We know that Paul was a straight talker; he said exactly what he thought. At least they would have known what Paul thought because there was no hidden agenda in his speech.


All too often people say one thing when they really mean something else. There are, of course, times when we should be slow to be absolutely truthful. For example, you should be slow to tell a person that he is ugly, even if it might be true. However, if you disagree with someone on a matter of doctrinal importance, then you should declare openly what you believe. It is usually far better to risk offending a person by declaring your beliefs than to possibly mislead that person by letting them think that you might agree with them, when in fact you don’t. Then again, you have to be certain you are right before putting your thoughts into speech.


Even today, so many Christians are slow to disagree with another person whom they respect as a Christian. This might (perhaps) be commendable if the issue is a minor one. But too often people will hold back on commenting on even significant doctrines if they consider that it might cause offence to disagree. (And Paul’s disagreement in Galatians dealt with a most significant doctrine, that of the biblical gospel. If that is skewed, then all other doctrines will be likewise skewed.)


Today we are too afraid of offending another for fear they mightn’t like us as much after that. Our social standing is something to be grasped more strongly than our beliefs. We would rather keep the peace than permit the truth to cause enmity. Talk about the truth setting us free! (John 8:32) But the truth can also divide and should not be put aside to keep the peace.

Luke 12:51-521Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.


In Galatia the gospel was being skewed by the addition of the law, specifically circumcision. Paul considered their views on the necessity of circumcision being added to the gospel to be anathema (accursed). Their false gospel (which was not a gospel at all) was a perversion (Galatians 1:7-9).


False gospels must not be tolerated, ever. If the church today is to be strong, then its gospel must be that of the Bible, with no other worldly additions. Many denominations preach what sounds like the biblical gospel. People can still be saved by the preaching of the true gospel, even in apostate churches. If false teachers preach the true gospel, then people can still be saved. The gospel has the power to save no matter where it is preached (Romans 1:16).


The problem so often arises when a church assesses those saved by the gospel according to man’s criteria. For example, the SDAs require obedience to the law of Moses (especially the sabbath law) in order to be declared saved. The catholics require obedience to their sacraments (child baptism, confirmation, taking mass, confession etc) in order to be declared saved. Many pentecostal churches require a spiritual manifestation (tongues, healing, slain in the Spirit etc) in order to be declared saved. Some even require survival from a snake bite to be declared saved! Presbyterians require child christening, confirmation and taking communion regularly in order to be declared saved. Other calvinist churches require a belief in the unconditional election, or attending an approved church in order to be declared saved. They do not accept home churches, either, especially those who have been set up like ours in disagreement with their false doctrines.


But, the Bible simply says that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13) My testimony of calling upon the name of the Lord is all that is required for me to be declared saved, as long as my works do not deny this. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). There are no extra additions such as having to attend an approved church, or any other commandment of man taught as the doctrine of God (Matthew 15:9).


MacArthur (in “Hard to Believe”) says, “Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it’s the fruit of actions, not intentions. ….. The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny.

Entrance into the kingdom requires earnest endeavor, untiring energy, and utmost exertion

Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words.

And from “The Believer's Life in Christ, MacArthur Bible Study Guide, Eph. 1:1-2:10”

We were so important to God that He gave up His Son to die on our behalf.” (Doesn’t that imply that if Jesus didn’t die for you it was because you were not important enough? You are important enough to the calvinist God if you either (a) are created more important, or (b) you have worked enough so that you are sufficiently important to the calvinist God. That is, you were either created one of the elite, or you did the right works. (“Elite” derives from the same root word as “elect”!)


All true doctrine in the Bible rests upon the foundation of the gospel (God’s salvation for mankind). This is the mainstay of all that God has to say to mankind. And, no matter whether it’s the covenant of the law of the OT or the covenant of grace of the NT, the foundation for both is Jesus Christ. If you change that foundation, you will change the building itself.

1 Corinthians 3:11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.


Galatians 4:17They zealously affect you, [but] not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.


zealously affectzeloo (to burn with zeal; be heated or to boil with envy, hatred or anger; to be zealous in pursuit of good; desire earnestly; to be the object of the zeal of others; to be zealously sought after; to envy; be jealous)


wellkalos (adverb) (beautifully; finely; excellently; well; rightly, so that there can be no room for blame; truly; commendably; honourably; to be well of those recovering from bad health)


excludeekkleio (to shut out; to turn out of doors; to prevent the approach of one)


you might affectzeloo … as for “zealously affect” above.


These Judaizing Jews at Galatia were doing their best (zealously!), it seems, to win others over to their cause. It is likely that the same rule applied then as applies now: Those who shout the loudest are the ones whom people most hear. They were probably a minority, yet, like so many minority groups today, being very vocal makes their cause sound so much more acceptable to the gullible (and far too many people are just plain gullible). It’s the basic rule behind many protests: If you make enough waves, then others will be swamped.


These legalistic Jews were burning with zeal to push their legalistic requirement that unless a Gentile be circumcised (as they were), then he couldn’t be a genuine Christian. They were like politicians chasing votes, canvassing eagerly for support, courting the favour of others, in order to win others to their side.


Benson says: “The Judaizing teachers who are come among you express an extraordinary regard for you” In other words, Paul is saying that they are all over you in their desire to get you on their side. They are sycophants, full of flattery and admiration for you, but it’s got nothing to do with your good. (“but not well” = not for your good) They have no intention of doing all this for your good; it’s all a big show of “niceness” to suck you into their scheme of things. Like many politicians, they are all froth and bubble, but no substance. Once they are voted in, so many forget that they were actually elected to represent their electorate!


If you think they are concerned for you, then think again, says Paul. They are really only thinking of themselves. The moment you show any zeal in opposing them, they’ll exclude you from their list of favoured people. Like many calvinists, if you don’t give in to their arguments, they’ll just refuse to talk to you anymore. They are always right; therefore everyone who disagrees must be wrong! So many internet forums are moderated by calvinists. Calvinist views may be pushed openly, but any serious criticism will usually get a warning from the moderator, then be excluded if it continues. The consequence is that the forum is biased, but the average reader doesn’t see this, because opposing views are moderated (limited or removed).


 And, of course, it is those who still see Paul’s gospel as the truth who will be opposing those who are now opposing the true biblical gospel that Paul had preached to them. So, effectively, if any were to support Paul and his biblical gospel, then these Jews would take steps to exclude you from being able to zealously influence others in opposition to them. Only favourable views may be accepted! And therefore they must exclude Paul’s views also because they are against the beliefs of the legalistic Jews.


In effect, the legalistic Jews wanted a monopoly of opinion. Discussion is good as long as you do not disagree with them. It’s just like being politically correct today. We might allegedly have freedom of speech, but only as long as you agree with the politically correct views. While black lives do matter, white lives matter also. All lives matter, regardless of race or colour, not just politically correct views.


Galatians 4:18But [it is] good to be zealously affected always in [a] good [thing], and not only when I am present with you.


to be zealously affectedzeloo

Paul uses zeloo in the following, where it is translated “jealous”. According to Paul it is good to be jealous (or zealous) for that which is good.

2 Corinthians 11:1-21Would to God ye could bear with me a little in [my] folly: and indeed bear with me. 2For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.


good (used twice)– kalos (this is the adjective form of the adverb kalos – “well” – in Vs 17 above)

There is nothing wrong with zeal for that which is good, says Paul. In fact, it is always good to be zealously affected for good things, and that is regardless of whether or not he (Paul) is present.


Thus Paul is not condemning zeal in itself. It is what they are zealous for that determines whether or not it is good. Enthusiasm must be judged by the cause it supports.

Paul uses kalos for “well” (as in “well doing”) in the following:

Galatians 6:9And let us not be weary in well (kalos) doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.


and not only when I am present with you – Apparently the Galatian Christians as a whole had been very enthusiastic when Paul had first come to them and preached the gospel. “I bear you record, that, if [it had been] possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” (Vs 15 above) However, at some point in time after Paul had departed for other mission fields, the undermining of the gospel by the legalistic Jews had begun. The Galatians had been zealously affected in favour of what Paul had preached while he had been there, but not as much now. Paul tells them that zeal for that which is good doesn’t have to depend upon him being there. It is always good to be zealous for that which is good, and not only when Paul is present.


It is clear that Paul is not with them at Galatia at this point in time. Thus he is writing a letter, even when he does feel that it might be even better if he could visit them to be able to explain what he is saying face-to-face (see Vs 20 below).


in (a) good (thing) – This is in contrast with “not well” of Vs 17 above. Paul has condemned their zeal for things that are not good, but has used this verse (Vs 18) to demonstrate that zeal can also be good if it is for the right cause.


Galatians 4:19My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,


little childrenteknion (a little child; used as a term of kindly address by teachers to their disciples)

“little children” is only used once in Galatians. John uses the term “little children” 7 times in 1 John. Jesus used it once (in John 13:33).


travail in birthodino (feel the pains of childbirth; to travail; have birth pangs)

Used only 3 times in NT, 2 of them in Galatians Ch.4. See also Galatians 4:27For it is written, Rejoice, [thou] barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

Its other use is translated “travailing in birth” (Revelation 12:2)


of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you – Of whom I have once already brought forth into new life in Christ, and now am having to go through the whole process of birthing you again, until Christ be formed again in you.


Paul has laboured hard to bring them to their new life. He was afraid that such labour may have been in vain if they were to just slip back into their old life of bondage to the religious rituals of the past.

Galatians 4:11I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.


In order to not slip from their “so great salvation”, they should give more earnest heed to that which they had been taught.

Hebrews 2:1-31Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip. 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];


until Christ be formed in youEphesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:


Galatians 4:20I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.


nowarti (just now; this moment; at this very time)


I desirethelo (to will; to have in mind what to do; to intend; to be resolved to do something; determined; to purpose; to desire; to wish; to take delight in; to have pleasure)


This word (thelo) deals with acts of the will. It is used twice in Matthew 23:37 which makes it abundantly clear that the people of Jerusalem had refused to come to Jesus by an act of their wills. Note that Jesus applies this word firstly to Himself (clearly as an act of His will) and then applies the same word to those who would not come (also by their own wills).

Matthew 23:37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I (thelo) have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would (thelo) not!


And if an act of the will, then it cannot be something God made them do. It raises the question: Do people not seek after God because they choose not to, or because they are ordained to not seek after God? Romans 3:11b says “there is none that seeketh after God.” Calvinism teaches that this is can only be because they cannot seek after God, yet people can also choose to not seek after God. One of calvinism’s strongest supports claimed for the inability of man to seek God is Romans 3:11, yet they are unable to prove that it cannot be merely a choice by sinful man to not seek after God. The total depravity of man is biblical – yes – but definitely not the total inability of man. Romans 3:11 could be seen as either “will not” or “cannot”. Biblical consistency can only support “will not”. Why don’t people read their Bibles more for themselves??


So, this is what Paul wants to happen. He wishes he could be with them now (at this very moment). Writing a letter might give them information, but it’s no replacement for actually talking to them in person. Paul would like to be present there with them in order to be able to say things in a way that a letter cannot say it.

It is likely that Vs 18 referred to this when Paul wrote “not only when I am present with you”.


and to change my voice – or “to change the way I am telling you this”, that is, “to say in person that which is difficult to say in a letter”. From experience, I have always found it easier to say things directly to a person’s face. You can observe reactions and better adjust your tone and language to suit the situation. For that reason I find a phone-call too abrupt in that you cannot take back what you have said and re-say it differently. Even a letter is better than a phone call because at least you can read what you have written and alter things that, on second glance, look out of place or likely to offend unnecessarily. But face-to-face in person is the preferred means of saying that which may feel hurtful but yet must be said. Facial expressions in particular can be an excellent guide to a person’s attitude to what you are saying.


I stand in doubtaporeo (to be without resources; to be in straits; to be left wanting; to be embarrassed; be in doubt; not know which way to turn; be at a loss; not know how to decide or what to do; to be perplexed)

Paul is perplexed as to how to react in this situation, and would feel far more comfortable being present with them while saying this.

“I do not know what to say to you, nor how to say it, so that you will see (understand) my point and therefore will cause you to turn away from this heresy. I fear I may be only making it worse by writing to you instead of being there in person.” or “I don’t know how you would take what I have to say to you.”

It is far better with such situations to be able to see the reaction of the ones you are communicating with.


aporeo is translated “perplexed” in the following:

2 Corinthians 4:8-108[We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed (aporeo), but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.


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