Galatians 1:4
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
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(4) Who gave himself.—Surrendered Himself, of His own free act and will, to those who sought His death. The phrase has a parallel in Titus 2:14, and appears in its full and complete form in the Gospel saying (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45): “The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many “; and in 1Timothy 2:6 : “Who gave Himself a ransom” (the word is here a compound, which brings out more strongly the sense of vicariousness) “for all.”

For our sins.—In the Greek there are three prepositions, which can only be translated by the single word “for” in English. The first has for its primary sense “concerning,” or “relating to”; it merely marks a connection or relation between two facts. The second has rather the sense “in behalf of,” “in the interests of.” The third means strictly “in place of.” The first, as might be expected, is naturally used in respect of things; the second and third of persons. The death of Christ was a sacrifice for sins, i.e., the sins of mankind stood in a distinct relation to it, which was really that of cause. The sins of mankind it was which set the whole scheme of redemption in motion, and to take away those sins was its main object. The death of Christ was a sacrifice for sinners. It was a sacrifice wrought in their behalf, for their benefit. It was also a sacrifice wrought in their stead. Christ suffered in order that they might not suffer. He gave His life “a ransom for (i.e., in place of) many.” The first of these meanings is represented in Greek by the preposition peri, the second by huper, the third by anti. The distinction, however, is not quite strictly kept up. We not unfrequently find the death of Christ described as a sacrifice for (on behalf of) sins. This would correspond rather to our phrase “for the sake of.” The object was to do away with sins. They were, as it were, the final cause of the atonement.

It is somewhat doubtful which of the first two prepositions is to be read here. By far the majority of MSS. have peri, but the famous Codex Vaticanus, and one of the corrections of the Sinaitic MS., have huper. The two prepositions are not unfrequently confused in the MSS., and the probability in this case is that the numerical majority is right. It will then be simply stated in the text that the sins of men and the sacrifice of Christ have a relation to each other. If there had been no sin there would have been no redemption.

Deliver us.—The deliverance present to the mind of the Apostle appears to be rather (in technical language) that of sanctification than that of justification. The object of redemption is regarded for the moment as being to deliver men from sin, and not so much to deliver them from guilt, the consequence of sin. The Atonement has really both objects, but it is the first that the Apostle has in view in this passage.

This present evil world.—The reading of the three oldest and best MSS. tends rather to emphasise the word “evil”—“this present world, with all its evils.” A question is raised as to the word translated “present,” which might probably mean “impending;” but the Authorised version is probably right. “This present world” is strictly this present age. The Jews divided the history of the world into two great periods—the times antecedent to the coming of the Messiah, and the period of the Messianic reign. The end of the first and the beginning of the second were to be especially attended with troubles; and it was just in this transition period—the close of the older dispensation of things—in which the Apostles regarded themselves as living. The iniquities of the Pagan society around them would naturally give them an intense longing for release; but the release which they seek is moral and spiritual. They do not so much pray that they may be “taken out of the world” as that they may be “kept from the evil.” This the Christian scheme, duly accepted and followed, would do. The Atonement free men from guilt, but its efficacy does not cease there; it sets going a train of motives which hold back the Christian from sin, and constrain him to use his best endeavours after a holy life. The Galatians had lost sight of the power of the Atonement to do this, and had fallen back upon the notion of a legal righteousness, through the vain attempt to keep the commandments of the Law.

According to the will.—The scheme of redemption was willed by God, and therefore all that was done, either on the part of man or of his Redeemer, was a carrying out of His will.

Of God and our Father.—Or, as it might be, of our God and Father. It was the fatherly love of God for His creature, man, that set the work of redemption in motion; hence, in reference to the work of redemption, He is spoken of as “our Father”—i.e., the Father of mankind.

Galatians 1:4-5. Who gave himself for our sins — See on 1 Corinthians 15:3; that he might deliver us from this present evil world — From the ignorance and folly, sinfulness and guilt, corruption and misery, wherein it is involved, and from its vain and foolish customs and pleasures, that friendship and society with worldly men, and that inordinate desire after, and attachment to worldly things, which is enmity against God, Romans 8:7; James 4:4; according to the will of God — Without any merit of ours. St. Paul begins most of his epistles with thanksgiving, but writing to the Galatians, who had generally departed from the truth, he alters his style, and first sets down his main proposition, that we are saved by the merits of Christ alone: neither does he term them, as he does others, either saints, elect, or churches of God. To whom be glory — For this his gracious will.

1:1-5 St. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ; he was expressly appointed by him, consequently by God the Father, who is one with him in respect of his Divine nature, and who appointed Christ as Mediator. Grace, includes God's good-will towards us, and his good work upon us; and peace, all that inward comfort, or outward prosperity, which is really needful for us. They come from God the Father, as the Fountain, through Jesus Christ. But observe, first grace, and then peace; there can be no true peace without grace. Christ gave himself for our sins, to make atonement for us: this the justice of God required, and to this he freely submitted. Here is to be observed the infinite greatness of the price bestowed, and then it will appear plainly, that the power of sin is so great, that it could by no means be put away except the Son of God be given for it. He that considers these things well, understands that sin is a thing the most horrible that can be expressed; which ought to move us, and make us afraid indeed. Especially mark well the words, for our sins. For here our weak nature starts back, and would first be made worthy by her own works. It would bring him that is whole, and not him that has need of a physician. Not only to redeem us from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; but also to recover us from wicked practices and customs, to which we are naturally enslaved. But it is in vain for those who are not delivered from this present evil world by the sanctification of the Spirit, to expect that they are freed from its condemnation by the blood of Jesus.Who gave himself for our sins - The reason why Paul so soon introduces this important doctrine, and makes it here so prominent, probably is, that this was the cardinal doctrine of the Christian religion, the great truth which was ever to be kept before the mind, and because this truth had been in fact lost sight of by them. They had embraced doctrines which tended to obscure it, or to make it void. They had been led into error by the Judaizing teachers, who held that it was necessary to be circumcised, and to conform to the whole Jewish ritual. Yet the tendency of all this was to obscure the doctrines of the gospel, and particularly the great truth that people can be justified only by faith in the blood of Jesus; Galatians 5:4; compare Galatians 1:6-7. Paul, therefore, wished to make this prominent - the very "starting point" in their religion; a truth never to be forgotten, that Christ gave himself for their sins, that he might deliver them from all the bad influences of this world, and from all the false systems of religion engendered in this world. The expression "who gave" (τοῦ δόντος tou dontos is one that often occurs in relation to the work of the Redeemer, where it is represented as a "gift," either on the part of God, or on the part of Christ himself; see note on John 3:16; compare John 4:10; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:14. This passage proves:

(1) That it was wholly voluntary on the part of the Lord Jesus. No one compelled him to come; no one could compel him. It is not too much to say, that God could not, and would not compel any innocent and holy being to undertake the great work of the atonement, and endure the bitter sorrows which were necessary to redeem man. God will compel the guilty to suffer, but he never will compel the innocent to endure sorrows, even on behalf of others. The whole work of redemption must be voluntary, or it could not be performed.

(2) it evinced great benevolence on the part of the Redeemer. He did not come to take upon himself unknown and unsurveyed woes. He did not go to work in the dark. He knew what was to be done. He knew just what sorrows were to be endured - how long, how keen, how awful. And yet, knowing this, he came resolved and prepared to endure all those woes, and to drink the bitter cup to the dregs.

(3) if there had not been this benevolence in his bosom, man must have perished forever. He could not have saved himself; and he had no power or right to compel another to suffer on his behalf; and even God would not lay this mighty burden on any other, unless he was entirely willing to endure it. How much then do we owe to the Lord Jesus; and how entirely should we devote our lives to him who loved us, and gave himself for us. The word "himself," is rendered by the Syriac, "his life" (nafsh); and this is in fact the sense of the Greek, that he gave his "life" for our sins, or that he died in our stead. He gave his "life" up to toil, tears, privation, sorrow, and death, that he might redeem us. The phrase, "for our sins" (ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν huper tōn hamartiōn hēmōn), means the same as on account of; meaning, that the cause or reason why he gave himself to death, was our sins; that is, he died because we are sinners, and because we could be saved only by his giving himself up to death. Many mss. instead of (ὑπὲρ huper), here read (περὶ peri), but the sense is not materially varied. The Syriac translates it, "who gave himself instead of," by a word denoting that there was a "substitution" of the Redeemer in our place. The sense is, that the Lord Jesus became a vicarious offering, and died in the stead of sinners. It is not possible to express this idea more distinctly and unambiguously than Paul has done, in this passage. Sin was the procuring cause of his death; to make expiation for sin was the design of his coming; and sin is pardoned and removed only by his substituted suffering.

That he might deliver us - The word used here (ἐξέληται exelētai) properly means, to pluck out, to tear out; to take out from a number, to select; then to rescue or deliver. This is the sense here. He came and gave himself that he might "rescue or deliver" us from this present evil world. It does not mean to take away by death, or to remove to another world, but that he might effect a separation between us and what the apostle calls here, "this present evil world." The grand purpose was, to rescue sinners from the dominion of this world, and to separate them unto God.

This present evil world - See John 17:15-16. Locke supposes, that by this phrase is intended the Jewish institutions, or the Mosaical age, in contradistinction from the age of the Messiah. Bloomfield supposes, that it means "the present state of being, this life, filled as it is with calamity, sin, and sorrow; or, rather, the sin itself, and the misery consequent upon it." Rosenmuller understands by it, "the men of this age, Jews, who reject the Messiah; and pagans, who are devoted to idolatry and crime." The word rendered "world" (αἰὼν aiōn), means properly "age," an indefinitely long period of time; then eternity, forever. It then comes to mean the world, either present or future; and then the present world, as it is, with its cares, temptations, and desires; the idea of evil, physical and moral, being everywhere implied - Robinson, Lexicon; Matthew 13:22; Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34; Romans 12:2. Here it means the world as it is, without religion, a world of bad passions, false opinions, corrupt desires; a world full of ambition, and of the love of pleasure, and of gold; a world where God is not loved or obeyed; a world where people are regardless of right, and truth, and duty; where they live for themselves, and not for God; in short, that great community, which in the Scriptures is called the world, in contradistinction from the kingdom of God. That world, that evil world, is fall of sin; and the object of the Redeemer was to "deliver" us from that; that is, to effect a separation between his followers and that. It follows, therefore, that his followers constitute a unique community, not governed by the prevailing maxims, or influenced by the special feelings of the people of this world. And it follows, also, that if there is not in fact such a separation, then the purpose of the Redeemer's death, in regard to us, has not been effected, and we are still a part of that great and ungodly community, the world.

According to the will of God ... - Not by the will of man, or by his wisdom, but in accordance with the will of God. It was His purpose that the Lord Jesus should thus give himself; and his doing it was in accordance with His will, and was pleasing in His sight. The whole plan originated in the divine purpose, and has been executed in accordance with the divine will. If in accordance with His will, it is good, and is worthy of universal acceptation.

4. gave himself—(Ga 2:20); unto death, as an offering. Found only in this and the Pastoral Epistles. The Greek is different in Eph 5:25 (see on [2329]Eph 5:25).

for our sins—which enslaved us to the present evil world.

deliver us from this—Greek, "out of the," &c. The Father and Son are each said to "deliver us," &c. (Col 1:13): but the Son, not the Father, gave Himself for us in order to do so, and make us citizens of a better world (Php 3:20). The Galatians in desiring to return to legal bondage are, he implies, renouncing the deliverance which Christ wrought for us. This he more fully repeats in Ga 3:13. "Deliver" is the very word used by the Lord as to His deliverance of Paul himself (Ac 26:17): an undesigned coincidence between Paul and Luke.

world—Greek, "age"; system or course of the world, regarded from a religious point of view. The present age opposes the "glory" (Ga 1:5) of God, and is under the authority of the Evil One. The "ages of ages" (Greek, Ga 1:5) are opposed to "the present evil age."

according to the will of God and our Father—Greek, "of Him who is at once God [the sovereign Creator] and our Father" (Joh 6:38, 39; 10:18, end). Without merit of ours. His sovereignty as "God," and our filial relation to Him as "OUR Father," ought to keep us from blending our own legal notions (as the Galatians were doing) with His will and plan. This paves the way for his argument.

Which Christ, though he was put to death by Pilate and the Jews, yet he was not compelled to die; for he laid down his life, no man took it from him, John 10:17,18. Sometimes it is said, he died for our sins, as Romans 5:8; sometimes, that he gave himself, ( meaning, to death), as in Ephesians 5:2,25 1 Timothy 2:6 Titus 2:14: he was given by his Father, and he gave himself by his own free and spontaneous act.

For our sins, must be interpreted by other scriptures: here is the defect of a word here, which the Socinians would have to be remission; others, expiation (of which remission is a consequent). Both, doubtless, are to be understood, and something more also, which is expressed in the following words of the verse. Remission of sins is granted to be the effect of the death of Christ, but not the primary and sole effect thereof; but consequential to the propitiation, mentioned Romans 3:25; the redemption, Ephesians 1:7; the sacrifice, Hebrews 10:12: both which texts show the absurdity of the Socinians, in quoting those texts to favour their notion of Christ’s dying for the remission of our sins, without giving the justice of God satisfaction. And though some other texts mention Christ’s dying for our sins, without mention of such expiation, propitiation, redemption, or satisfaction; yet they must be interpreted by the latitude of the end of Christ’s death (expressed in other scriptures) relating to sin. Which is not only expiation, and remission, but the delivery of us from the lusts and corruptions of

this present evil world. The apostle here deciphers this world, by calling it present and evil: by the first, he hinteth to us, that there is a world to come; by the latter, he showeth the sinful practices of the greatest part of men, (for by world he means the corruption of persons living in the world), they are evil; and this was one end of Christ’s death, to deliver his saints from their evil practices and examples; thus, 1 Peter 1:18, we are said to be by the blood of Christ redeemed from a vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers. This (he saith) was done according to the will of God; the Greek word is yelhma, not diayhkhn: the will of God is his decree, purpose, or good pleasure, so as it signifieth both his eternal purpose, (according to Ephesians 1:4), and his present pleasure or consent. I see no ground for the Socinian criticism, who would have us understand by it, God’s testament, or present will for things to be done after death; the word importeth no more than God’s eternal purpose, as to the redemption of man by the blood of Christ, and his well pleasedness with his undertaking and performance of that work; this God he calleth our Father, not with respect to creation so much as adoption.

Who gave himself for our sins,.... The antecedent to the relative "who, is our Lord Jesus Christ", Galatians 1:3 and the words are an illustration of the good will of God the Father, and of the grace and love of Christ, in the gift of himself, for the sins of his people: he did not merely give, "sua, his own things", what were his properly, but, "se, himself"; not the world, and the fulness of it, gold, silver, and such like corruptible things; no, nor men for them, and people for their lives; nor angels, his creatures, and ministering spirits; but his own self, his life, his flesh, his blood, his body, and soul, his whole human nature, and this as in union with himself, a divine person, the eternal Son of God. He gave himself freely, cheerfully, voluntarily, into the hands of men, justice, and death itself, as a sacrifice for sin, to expiate it, make reconciliation and atonement for it, which could not be done by the sacrifices of the legal dispensation; to procure the remission of it, which could not be had without shedding or blood; and utterly to take it away, finish it, and make an end of it, and abolish it, so as that it might never rise any more to the condemnation of his people: and this reached to "sins" of all sorts, not only original, but actual, and these of thought, word, and deed; and this oblation of himself upon the cross, was not for any sin of his own, who had none, nor for the sins of angels, of whom he was no Redeemer aud Saviour, but "for our sins"; not the sins of the apostles, or of the Jews only, nor yet of all mankind, but of God's elect, called the friends of Christ, his sheep and church, for whom he gave himself; and his end in so doing was,

that he might deliver us from this present evil world; by which is meant, either the Jewish world, or church state, in which were a worldly sanctuary, and which were subject to ceremonies and traditions, called the elements and rudiments of the world; and who were possessed of worldly notions, and in expectation of a worldly kingdom to be set up by the Messiah; and both in principle and in practice were sadly degenerated, and were become very evil and wicked: or the present age and generation of men, whether of Jews or Gentiles, which was so corrupt, as the like was never known; or in general the present world, and the men of it, in distinction either from the world before the flood, as in 2 Peter 3:5 or rather from the new heavens and earth, which will be after the present ones, and wherein will dwell righteousness; or, in a word, from the world which is to come, as they are frequently opposed in Scripture: and which is said to be "evil", not with respect to the matter, that being all very good, as created by God; but with respect to the men of it, who lie in wickedness, under the power of the wicked one, and of their own sins; and to the things which are in it, all which are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Now Christ gave himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people, that as in consequence of this they might be delivered and saved from the damning power, so from the governing power and influence of all that is evil in this present world; as from Satan, the god of it, who has usurped a power over it; from the lusts that are predominant in it; from the vain conversation of the men of it; from the general conflagration of it at the last day, and from the perdition of ungodly men, and their eternal destruction in hell: and all this is

according to the will of God, and our Father, It was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God that Christ was delivered up into the hands of wicked men, and put to death by them; it was his will of purpose and decree, to deliver him up into the hands of justice and death, and that he should give himself sacrifice for sin; yea, it was his will of command, that he should lay down his life for his sheep, to which he was obedient; it was his pleasure, it was what was agreeable to him, was to his good liking, that he should die for the sins of his people; it was owing to the love of God, who is our Father in Christ, and by adopting grace, and not to any worth or desert of ours, that Christ gave himself for us; as his own love, so his Father's will, were what solely moved him to it.

{2} Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil {d} world, according to the will of God and our Father:

(2) The sum of the true Gospel is this, that Christ by his offering alone saves us who are chosen out of the world, by the free decree of God the Father.

(d) Out of that most corrupt state which is without Christ.

Galatians 1:4. This addition prepares the readers thus early for the recognition of their error; for their adhesion to Judaism was indeed entirely opposed to the aim of the atoning death of Jesus. Comp. Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13 ff. “See how he directs every word against self-righteousness,” Luther’s gloss.

τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτόν] that is, who did not withhold (ἐφείσατο, Romans 8:32), but surrendered Himself, namely, to be put to death.[16] This special application of the words was obvious of itself to the Christian consciousness, and is placed beyond doubt by the addition περὶ τ. ἁμαρτ. ἡμ. Comp. Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:14; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1Ma 6:44; and Wetstein in loc.

περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτ. ἡμ.] in respect of our sins (Romans 8:3), on account of them, namely, in order to atone for them. See Romans 3:23 ff.; Galatians 3:12 ff. In essential sense περί is not different from ὑπέρ (1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 10:26; Hebrews 13:11; Xen. Mem. i. 1. 17; Eur. Alc. 176, comp. 701; Hom. Il. xii. 243, comp. i. 444; see Buttmann, Ind. ad Mid. p. 188; Schaefer, App. Dem. I. p. 190; Bremi, ad Dem. Ol. p. 188, Goth.), and the idea of satisfaction is implied, not in the signification of the preposition, but in the whole nature of the case. Hom. Il. i. 444: Φοίβῳἑκατόμβην ῥέξαι ὑπὲρ Δαναῶν (for the benefit of the Danai), ὄφρʼ ἱλασόμεσθα ἄνακτα. As to περί and ὑπέρ in respect to the death of Jesus, the latter of which (never περί) is always used by Paul when the reference to persons is expressed, see further on 1 Corinthians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:3.

ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς κ.τ.λ.] End, which that self-surrender was to attain. The ἐνεστὼς αἰών is usually understood as equivalent to ὁ αἰὼν οὖτος, ὁ νῦν αἰών. Certainly in practical meaning ἐνεστώς may denote present (hence in the grammarians, ὁ ἐνεστὼς χρόνος, tempus praesens), but always only with the definite reference suggested by the literal signification, setting in, that is, in the course of entrance, that which has already begun. So not merely in passages such as Dem. 255. 9, 1466. 21; Herodian, ii. 2. 3; Polyb. i. 75. 2; 3 Esd. 5:47, 9:6; 3Ma 1:16, but also in Xen. Hell. ii. 1. 5; Plat. Legg. ix. p. 878; Dinarch. i. 93; Polyb. i. 83. 2, i. 60. 9, vii. 5. 4; 2Ma 3:17; 2Ma 6:9; comp. Schweighäuser, Lex. Polyb. p. 219; Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor. p. 350. So also universally in the N.T., Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 7:26; 2 Thessalonians 2:2 (comp. 2 Timothy 3:1; Hebrews 9:9). Now, as this definite reference of its meaning would be quite unsuitable to designate the αἰὼν οὗτος, because the latter is not an aeon just begun, but one running its course from the beginning and lasting until the παρουσία; and as elsewhere Paul always describes this present αἰών as the αἰὼν οὗτος (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; and frequently: comp. ὁ νῦν αἰών, 1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12), we must explain it as the period of time which is already in the act of setting in, the evil time which has already begun, that is, the time immediately preceding the παρουσία, so that the αἰὼν ἐνεστώς is the last part of the αἰὼν οὗτος. This αἰὼν ἐνεστώς is not only very full of sorrow through the dolores Messiae (see on 1 Corinthians 7:26), to which, however, the ethical πονηρός in our passage does not refer; but it is also in the highest degree immoral, inasmuch as many fall away from the faith, and the antichristian principle developes great power and audacity (2 Thessalonians 2:3 ff.; 1 Timothy 4:1 ff.; 2 Timothy 3:1 ff.; 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 1:18; 1 John 2:18; Matthew 24:10-12). Comp. Usteri, l.c. p. 348 ff.; Lücke and Huther on 1 John 2:18. On that account this period of time is pre-eminently ὁ αἰὼν πονηρός. With his idea of the nearness of the παρουσία, Paul conceived this period as having then already begun (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:7), although its full development was still in reserve (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Accordingly, the same period is here designated ὁ αἰὼν ἐνεστώς which in other places is called καιρὸς ἔσχατος (1 Peter 1:5), ἔσχαται ἡμέραι (Acts 2:17; Galatians 1:4. περὶ τ. ἁμαρτιῶν. The sin offerings of the Law were designated περὶ ἁμαρτίας (cf. Hebrews 10:6; Hebrews 10:8), but περί and ὑπέρ were equally applicable with reference to Christ’s offering of Himself for our sins; the former fixing attention on the effect of His sacrifice in doing away sin, the latter on the motive which prompted Him, viz., love for sinners. The two prepositions are combined in 1 Peter 3:18. It is often difficult to decide which is the genuine reading owing to the variation of MSS.: but here they are greatly in favour of περί, which is also more appropriate to the context: for in this clause a comparison is intended between the sin-offerings of Christ and the typical sin-offerings of the Law; while the next expresses the motive of the Saviour by the addition ὅπως ἐξέληται …—αἰῶνος. In early Greek this word denoted the appointed lifetime of man, and so combined the thought of an overruling destiny with the course of human life. From the conception of individual life was developed that of corporate life, whether of families, nations or societies, and the idea of divine appointment was more distinctly fastened on the word in Scripture, so that every successive dispensation of God was designated as an αἰών. In this place αἰῶνος denotes the world which Jesus found existing at the time of His coming, out of which He chose His disciples. World is the nearest English equivalent to αἰών in this sense, if only it be understood to mean a particular phase of human society, as in the phrases religious world, scientific world, etc., and not the material universe.—ἐνεστῶτος: existing. This participle is twice elsewhere applied to things existing by way of contrast to things future (μέλλοντα), in Romans 8:38 and 1 Corinthians 3:22. A similar contrast is here suggested between ὁ ἐνεστώς and ὁ μέλλων αἰών, i.e., between the world which Christ found existing on earth and the Messianic world whose coming Hebrew prophets had foretold.—πονηροῦ. This sweeping condemnation of the existing world corresponds to the language of the Baptist and to Christ’s own denunciations of the evil generation to which He came. In spite of all that revelation and conscience had done to leaven it, He found the faithful few in number, and evil predominant in the mass.—ἐξέληται. Here, as in Acts 26:17, this verb coupled with ἐκ can only denote choice out of the world, not deliverance from it, which would require the addition of ἐκ χειρός, as in Acts 12:11, or some equivalent. The clause describes the process of selection begun by Christ on earth, and still continued by the risen Christ as He calls fresh disciples into His Church continually.

4. who gave himself … our Father] The Apostle here prepares the way for the discussion of his great subject. He cannot think of the Gospel—pardon, justification, acceptance with God, and eternal life—apart from the atoning death of Christ. The efficacy of that “precious death” depends on the voluntary surrender of Himself by our Blessed Lord, “to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.” (Article 11.)

who gave himself] The Father gave the Son. The Son gave Himself.

for our sins] not merely to denounce sin—Moses and the prophets had done this; not merely to set us a perfect example—this would have been to mock the misery of unpardoned, unsanctified men and women. His death was for our sins. The exact force of the preposition may fall short of asserting the vicarious nature of our Lord’s sacrifice—indeed the reading of the Original is not free from doubt. But the Apostle’s language is in entire accord with his teaching elsewhere, and must be so explained. (Comp. Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:6.)

that he might deliver us] Rescue us from the thraldom of, &c. The same word is used of the deliverance of Joseph (Acts 7:10) and by our Lord Himself in reference to St Paul (Acts 26:17). Freedom as the result of emancipation is the great blessing of the Gospel. See Galatians 5:1; Galatians 5:13, and comp. John 8:32-36. It is also “the keynote of this Epistle”.

from this present evil world] World, lit. age. The Greek word signifies, the present state of things, the world’s life, regarded in its transitory nature, as a condition of existence, rather than the material creation. Matter is not essentially evil. It becomes an instrument of evil by reason of man’s transgression of the law of God. There is a similar usage in the familiar expression of the Roman historian ‘Corrumpere et corrumpi sæculum vocatur,’ Tac. Germ. 17; compare ‘fecunda culpæ sæcula,’ of Horace. Two other renderings of the phrase are admissible; (1) from the present (or besetting) evil of the world; or (2) from the evil of the present world. Our Lord prayed for His disciples, not that they should be taken out of the world, but that they should be kept from the evil; and He has taught us to pray, ‘Deliver us from the evil.’ There is however a true sense in which Christians are delivered, rescued from this present evil age or dispensation, from its power and its contamination—a dispensation so often contrasted with “that world” (Luke 20:35) into which sin and defilement cannot enter. Satan, who is the god of this present evil world, will then be finally vanquished and “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

according to the will of God and our Father] Better, of God our Father. That ‘will’ is the ultimate cause and law. Redemption is its fulfilment. Hence our Lord declares that He came to do the will of Him that sent Him. John 4:34; John 5:30, and espec. John 6:38-40; comp. Hebrews 10:7-10, “By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The will of the Father and the will of the Son are distinct, but in perfect harmony.

The will is Divine, and therefore claims our submission. It is our Father’s will, and therefore appeals to our filial love and confidence. This thought inspires the ascription,

Galatians 1:4. Τοῦ δόντος, who gave) Paul adds such a periphrasis nowhere else to the prayer for grace and peace: who gave himself, Galatians 2:20.—ἁμαρτιῶν, for our sins) which had enslaved us to this evil world.—ἐξέληται, might deliver) Paul describes the whole benefit of redemption on that side, on which the Galatians, carried away by the mischievous influence of Jewish teaching, experienced greatest difficulty.—ἐνεστῶτος, present) This present lasts as long as wickedness prevails.—αἰῶνος πονηροῦ; evil world) A rare mode of speaking by which the whole economy of sin under the authority of Satan is denoted. The ages of ages (for ever and ever) in the following verse are opposed to this world [which is both depraved and unhappy.—V. g.], on which comp. Romans 5:6 : and by it the Galatians had been almost entirely led away. The present world obstructs the glory of God, and is under the authority τοῦ πονηροῦ, of the Wicked One. Paul speaks of Satan nowhere more sparingly than in this epistle.—κατὰ, according to) construed with, who gave; John 10:18, at the end.—τὸ θέλημα the will) without any merit of ours; comp. John 6:38-39.—καὶ, and) See Romans 15:6, note [of Him who is at once God (the Creator) and our Father].

Verse 4. - Who gave himself (τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτόν). This is the strongest imaginable description of what Christ did to redeem us. The phrase occurs in 1 Macc. 6:44, with reference to the Eleazar who rushed upon certain death to kill the elephant which was carrying the king, Antiochus: "He gave himself (ἔδωκεν ἑαυτὸν) to save his people." It is applied to Christ also in Titus 2:14," Who gave himself for us;" and 1 Timothy 2:6, "Who gave himself a ransom for all." In the next chapter, ver. 20, the apostle writes, "Who loved me, and gave himself up (πυραδόντος ἑαυτὸν) for me." Similarly, St. Paul writes in Romans 8:32, "He that spared not [i.e. 'kept not back'] his own Son, but gave him up (παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν) for us all." The addition, in Matthew 26:45, of the words, "into the hands of sinners," and our Lord's utterance in Luke 22:53, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," help to illustrate the exceedingly pregnant expression now before us. For our sins (ὑπέρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν). This is the reading of the Textus Receptus, retained by the Revisers. On the other hand, L. T. Tr., for ὑπέρ, substitute περί. These two prepositions ὑπὲρ and περὶ are, in this relation as well as in some others, used indifferently. If we follow the reading of Rec. L. T. Tr. Rev. (for very often the manuscripts oscillate between the two), we have ὑπὲρ in 1 Corinthians 15:3, "Died for our sins;" Hebrews 7:27, "To offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people;" Hebrews 9:7, "Blood, which he offereth for himself, and for the ignorances of the people." On the other hand, we find in the same authorities περὶ in Romans 8:3, "Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin;" Hebrews 5:3, "As for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins" (where, however, the Receptus has ὑπὲρ in the last clause, ("for sins"); Hebrews 10:6, "Whole burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin;" Hebrews 10:18, "No more offering for sin;" 1 John 2:2, 10, "Propitiation for our sins;" 1 Peter 3:16, "Died [or, 'suffered'] for (περὶ) sins, the righteous for (ὑπὲρ) the unrighteous." The last passage (1 Peter 3:18) suggests the remark that ὑπὲρ is the more appropriate word before persons, and περὶ before "sins." We find, however, that, in the Septuagint, in the Pentateuch περὶ is used also before persons as it is in Hebrews 5:3; thus: Leviticus 5:18, "The priest shall make atonement for περὶ him concerning (περὶ) his ignorance;" in both cases rendering the Hebrew al. So Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35; Numbers 8:12. On the other hand, in Exodus 32:30 we have "I will go up unto the Lord, that I may make atonement for (περί, b'ad) your sin." The truth seems to be that ὑπέρ, which is more properly "on behalf of" often denotes "for," equivalent to "on account of;" as e.g. Psalm 39:11, Septuagint, "rebukes for sin;" Ephesians 5:20, "Giving thanks always for all things;" Romans 15:9, "Glorify God for his mercy." And this sense passes into "concerning," "with reference to;" as 2 Corinthians 1:8, "I would not have you ignorant concerning our affliction;" 2 Corinthians 8:23, "Whether any inquire about Titus." On the other hand, περί, which more properly denotes "concerning," "with reference to," passes into the sense of "on account of;" as Luke 19:37, "Praise God for all the mighty works;" John 10:33, "For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy;" 1 Corinthians 1:4, "I thank my God... concerning you;" 1 Thessalonians 1:2, "We give thanks to God for you all;" Romans 1:8, "I thank my God for [Receptus, ὑπὲρ] you all." The use of περὶ in the verse before us, and in the similar passages above cited, no doubt followed its use in the phrase περὶ ἁμαρτίας, which in the LXX. so commonly describes the "sin offering" of the Levitical institute. This phrase sometimes represents what in the Hebrew text is the simple noun (chattath) "sin," put for "sin offering;" as e.g. Leviticus 7:37, "This is the law ofthe burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering (chattath)," etc. (οῦτος ὁ νόμος τῶν ὁλοκαυτωμάτων καὶ θυσίας καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας, etc.). Sometimes it represents the same Hebrew noun preceded by the preposition al, for: "For the sin of such or such a one (περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ δεῖνα);" as e.g. Leviticus 5:35, where the LXX. has, "The priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he hath sinned (ἐξιλάσεται περι αὐτοῦ ὁ ἱερεὺς περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας η}ν ἥμαρτε)." The precise force of περὶ in this phrase was probably "on account of sin," or "having reference to sin;" senses of περὶ which, as has been seen, are borne by ὑπὲρ as well. This view of the force of these two prepositions, as employed in this relation, seems to the present writer more satisfactory than that which refers it to the notion of protection, "on behalf of" or "for the good of" some one; though it must unquestionably be allowed that this is a notion which they both of them frequently convey. To this latter notion, indeed, we must in all probability refer the use of ὑπὲρ in Galatians 2:20, "Gave himself up for me," as well as in 1 Peter 3:18, 6, for the unrighteous;" Luke 22:19, 20, "Given for you," "Poured out for you," and the like; and also that of περὶ in Matthew 26:28, "Shed for many;" John 17:9, "I pray for them;" Colossians 4:3, "Praying for us." The result of this inquiry into the usus loquendi with reference to these prepositions appears to be this: in what manner the death of Christ affected our condition in those respects in which that condition was antecedently qualified by our sins, neither ὑπὲρ nor περὶ as prefixed to the noun "sins" enables us precisely to determine, further than as it recalls for illustration the "sin offering" of the Law. For the more complete development of the idea intended to be conveyed, we must look to other references made in Scripture to the subject, such as e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:19. Thus much, however, we may confidently assume: both ὑπὲρ and περὶ as so applied do alike warrant us in concluding, not only that it was because of our sins that Christ behoved to die, but also that his death is efficacious for the complete removal of those evils which accrue to us from our sins. That he might deliver us from this present evil world (ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ. Such is the reading of L. T. Tr. Rev.; while the Textus Receptus has ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ); that he might deliver us out of the present world, evil that it is. The verb ἐξαιρέομαι, originally "take out," renders the Hebrew hitztzil in 1 Samuel 4:8 and Jeremiah 1:8 in the sense of "deliver;" it points to "the present state" as one of helpless misery or danger. Compare the use of the verb, Acts 7:10, 34; Acts 12:11; it is equivalent to ῤύεσθαι, as found in Colossians 1:13 and Luke 1:74. The participle "present" or "subsisting," ἐνεστώς, is found in explicit contrast with the participle "to come," μέλλων, Romans 8:38," Nor things present nor things to come;" and 1 Corinthians 3:22. We are, therefore, naturally led to suppose that the apostle means to contrast the "world" here referred to with a "world to come;" which latter is mentioned in Hebrews 6:5, and seems synonymous with the "world [literally, 'inhabited earth'] to come," οἰκουμένη μέλλουσα, of Hebrews 2:5. Compare our Lord's words in Matthew 12:32, "Neither in this world nor in that which is to come," and his contrast of "this world" with "that world" in Luke 20:34, 35. The Greek word here employed, aion, like kosmos, is used with varying shades of meaning. The two nouns, used interchangeably in 1 Corinthians 3:18, 19 are, however, not altogether equivalent. The former originally denotes a mode of time; the latter, a mode of space. In particular, aion is never used in the Greek Testament to denote "mankind," as kosmos not unfrequently is by all its writers. In the Syriac Version, olmo represents both aion and kosmos in all their senses, with a slight variation in its form to represent aion in Ephesians 2:2, "The course (aida) of this world (kosmos)," as if it were "The worldliness of this world." Probably the same word olmo, in the Chaldean-Hebrew language current amongst the Palestinian Jews, was the term employed by them in all those connections in which either aion or kosmos would have been used by them if speaking in Hellenistic Greek; for it is to the Hellenistic dialect of the Greek language that both words as so employed belong. We never find aion at all in any of St. John's writings, except in the phrases, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα or εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, denoting "for ever." In other significations, when other writers of the New Testament might have used aion, St. John always puts kosmos. The word aion, denoting a cycle of time, is used also to signify a material world, as Hebrews 1:2; and, in particular, the state of things found existing in that cycle of time; and this as viewed in various aspects. In Luke 20:34, 35 "this aida" contrasts the present state, as one of mortality and successive reproduction, with "that aion," viewed as one of immortality, in which processes of reproduction are found no more. But in Luke 16:8 "the children of this aion" are those who live after the world-loving, sinful fashion which characterizes mankind in general in contrast with "the children of light," who have been enlightened to recognize their relation to a spiritual world. In St. Paul, "the present αἰὼν denotes the entire moral and spiritual state of mankind viewed in the aspect in which he contemplated it - a state wrapped in spiritual "darkness," pervaded by ungodliness and general immorality, and dominated by Satan; as Bengel puts it, "tota oeconomia peceati sub potestate Satanae" (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4); a state from which Christians ought to study to get wholly weaned in all their moral and spiritual habits (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24). In St. John, the phrases, "the world (kosmos)," or "this world" are frequently employed to express the same idea; as e.g. John 12:31; John 16:11; 1 John 2:15, 16; 1 John 5:19. Out of this "power, empire, of darkness," in which by nature apart from Christ's grace all men are hopelessly enthralled; out of the grasp, inextricable by any efforts of their own, with which Satan holds them, - the apostle recognizes Christ as alone able to "rescue" us; and even him only able to "rescue" us by virtue of his atoning sacrifice of himself Thus, in an eminently just application of the verb, he is said to "redeem" (λυτροῦσθαι) them from all iniquity, which expression includes, not only the idea of his paying down a ransom for their emancipation, but also the thought that, by the power of his grace, he makes the ransom effectual for the actual moral and spiritual deliverance, one by one, of those who believe in him: "he purifies them a people of his very own, devoted to good works" (Titus 2:14). The position in the Greek of the epithet "evil," standing in a peculiar manner without the article after "this present world" (τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ), is discussed both by Bishop Ellicott and by Bishop) Lightfoot in their respective Commentaries on the Epistle; the latter of whom takes it as equivalent to "with all its evils." It seems to the present writer that the syntax of the clause groups it with Ephesians 2:11," That which is called circumcision, in the flesh, made [or, 'done '] with hands (τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιητοῦ)," where ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιητοῦ has no article, because it is a logical adjunct: the circumcision "which is made in the flesh with hands," is of course no real circumcision (cf. Romans 2. fin.), and there-fore is only one so "called." So in the present passage the epithet "evil" is a logical adjunct: the state of the world being an "evil state," craved Christ's redemption, and this fact should make that redemption welcome to us. Similarly, in 1 Peter 1:18 the epithet" handed from your fathers (πατροπαραδοτοῦ)," added after "your vain manner of life," is a logical adjunct: the fact that it was ancient and traditional gave it so strong a hold upon them as to crave the intervention of a no ordinary ransom to redeem them from it. With the turn of thought, which according to this view is indicated by the epithet πονηροῦ having been added to the noun without the article, agrees likewise the emphatic position of the verb ἐξέληται at the Lead of the sentence. Christ gave his own very self for this end, that he might deliver us out of this wretched state of things to which we belonged. But the reactionary movement now showing itself among the Galatians would inevitably, the apostle feels (see Galatians 5:4), have the effect of making void this redeeming work of Christ, and of involving them afresh in their original misery. If we adhere to the reading in the Textus Receptus, τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος αἰῶνος πονηροῦ, we had best, perhaps, accept Winer's proposal ('Gram. N. T.,' § 20, 1 a), and explain the absence of the article by supposing αἰὼν πονηριὸς as forming one notion, as in the case of βρῶμα πνευματικὸν and πόμα πν. in the Textus Receptus of 1 Corinthians 10:3. But this reading, though grammatically it runs more smoothly than the other, is on that very account the less likely to have been the original one, and seems greatly to blunt the significance of the adjective. May we not detect in this epithet "evil" the sound of a sigh, drawn from the apostle's heart by this flesh worry and disappointment now cropping up for him and for all who cared for the success of the gospel? His feeling seems to be - Oh the weary evilness of this present state! When will it be brought to an end by the appearing of that blissful hope? (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:4). According to the will of God and our Father (κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν); according to the will of our God and Father. It is, perhaps, of no great consequence whether we understand this clause as pointing to the whole preceding sentence, "Who gave himself... world," or to the last clause of it, "That he might deliver... world." But the former is the more probable construction:

(1) there is no reason for restricting it to the last words;

(2) it is in perfect accordance with the apostle's usual reference of Christ's coming into the world and dying for us to the Father's appointment, that he should here too be understood as referring to this work of delivering grace also.

The feeling apparently underlies these words of the apostle, that the Judaizing which he has now before his eyes was both setting itself in opposition to the supreme ordering of "our God" - and his sovereign "will" who of us shall dare to contravene? - and also thwarting the operation of his fatherly loving-kindness. For the lack of filial confidence in God's love to us, and the slavish ceremonialism which characterized Judaical legalism, were both of them adjuncts of the unspiritual mind still in bondage to "the flesh" (cf. Romans 7. and 8.), and therefore part and parcel of "this present world." Comp. Galatians 3:3; Galatians 4:3, 8-10; and Colossians 2:20," Why, as living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, Handle not," etc.? As Professor Jowett observes, in this case as well as in the Epistle to the Romans, "The salutation is the proem of the whole Epistle." The expression, "our God and Father," is pathetic; it is an outcome of the deep complacency with which the apostle cherishes the assurance of God's fatherly love given us in the gospel - a sentiment of complacency stimulated into increased fervency by antagonism to the spiritual mischief confronting him. Of our God and Father. So Revised Version. This rendering appears decidedly preferable to that given by the Authorized Version, "of God and our Father," though grammatically this latter is confessedly not inadmissible. The like remark applies to all the other passages in the New Testament in which Θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ is found followed by a genitive; namely, by πάντων (Ephesians 4:6); by ἡμῶν as in the passage before us (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:11, 13; Philippians 4:20); by τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Ξριστοῦ (Romans 15:6; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3); by τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ (2 Corinthians 11:31 [L. T. Tr. Rev.; Receptus has τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Ξριστοῦ]; and by αὐτοῦ (Revelation 1:6). Galatians 1:4Gave himself for our sins

Comp. Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14. Purposely added with reference to the Galatians' falling back on the works of the law as the ground of acceptance with God. For or with reference to sins (περὶ) expresses the general relation of Christ's mission to sin. The special relation, to atone for, to destroy, to save and sanctify its victims, is expressed by ὑπὲρ on behalf of. The general preposition, however, may include the special.

Out of this present evil world (ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ)

Lit. out of the world, the present (world which is) evil. For αἰών age or period, see John 1:9, and additional note on 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Here it has an ethical sense, the course and current of this world's affairs as corrupted by sin. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:4. Ἑνεστῶτος, present, as contrasted with the world to come. Elsewhere we have ὁ νῦν αἰών the now world (1 Timothy 6:17); ὁ αἰὼν τοῦκοσμοῦ the period of this world (Ephesians 2:2); ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος this world or age (Romans 7:2). Ἑνεστῶτος, not impending, as some expositors, - the period of wickedness and suffering preceding the parousia (2 Thessalonians 2:3), which would imply a limitation of Christ's atoning work to that period. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Timothy 3:1; 1 Corinthians 7:26. The sense of present as related to future is clear in Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Hebrews 9:9. For the evil character of the present world as conceived by Paul, see Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2.

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