Galatians 4:11
I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labor in vain.
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4:8-11 The happy change whereby the Galatians were turned from idols to the living God, and through Christ had received the adoption of sons, was the effect of his free and rich grace; they were laid under the greater obligation to keep to the liberty wherewith he had made them free. All our knowledge of God begins on his part; we know him because we are known of him. Though our religion forbids idolatry, yet many practise spiritual idolatry in their hearts. For what a man loves most, and cares most for, that is his god: some have their riches for their god, some their pleasures, and some their lusts. And many ignorantly worship a god of their own making; a god made all of mercy and no justice. For they persuade themselves that there is mercy for them with God, though they repent not, but go on in their sins. It is possible for those who have made great professions of religion, to be afterwards drawn aside from purity and simplicity. And the more mercy God has shown, in bringing any to know the gospel, and the liberties and privileges of it, the greater their sin and folly in suffering themselves to be deprived of them. Hence all who are members of the outward church should learn to fear and to suspect themselves. We must not be content because we have some good things in ourselves. Paul fears lest his labour is in vain, yet he still labours; and thus to do, whatever follows, is true wisdom and the fear of God. This every man must remember in his place and calling.I am afraid of you ... - I have fears respecting you. His fears were that they had no genuine Christian principle. They had been so easily perverted and turned back to the servitude of ceremonies and rites, that he was apprehensive that there could be no real Christian principle in the case. What pastor has not often had such fears of his people, when he sees them turn to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, or when, after having "run well," he sees them become the slaves of fashion, or of some habit inconsistent with the simplicity of the gospel? 11. lest—Greek, "lest haply." My fear is not for my own sake, but for yours. Paul knew that, with reference to himself, he had not laboured in vain; he might say with Isaiah, Isaiah 49:5: Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorified. He had told the Corinthians, that he knew he should be a sweet savour to God, as well in them that perished as in them that should be saved, 2 Corinthians 2:15. But he speaks with reference to them. A faithful minister accounteth his labour lost when he seeth no fruits of it upon the souls of his people. Nor was Paul afraid of this as to the sincerer part of this church, who truly believed, and were justified, but he speaketh this with reference to the whole body of this church. That which he feared, was their falling back from their profession of Christianity to Judaism; as judging the observation of the Jewish days necessary by Divine precept to Christians. Nor doth he speak of the observation of such days, as it was their duty in obedience to the moral law to observe, which commandeth the observation of a seventh day for the weekly sabbath, and gives a liberty for setting apart other days, and the commanding the observation of them, to take notice of and acknowledge God in emergent providences. But he only speaks of days imposed by the ceremonial law, and men’s religious observation of them, as being tied to it by a Divine precept, by which they made them a part of worship. We have a liberty to set apart any day for God’s worship, and magistrates have a liberty to set apart particular days for the acknowledgment of God in emergent providences whether of mercy or judgment; but none hath a power to make a day holy, so as that it shall be a sin against God for all to labour therein, much less hath any a liberty to keep Jewish holy-days. I am afraid of you,.... Which shows the danger he apprehended they were in, by taking such large steps from Christianity to Judaism, and expresses the godly jealousy of the apostle over them; intimates he had some hope of them, and in the whole declares his great love and affection for them; for love is a thing full of care and fear:

lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain; in preaching the Gospel among them with so much diligence and constancy, though so many afflictions and pressures lay upon him. Faithful ministers of the word are laborious ones; and such an one was the apostle; and who indeed laboured more abundantly than the rest in all places wherever he came; and such will be concerned, as he was, lest their labours should be in vain, not to themselves, but to the souls of others, whose everlasting good and welfare they are seeking. But how is it that the apostle should fear that his labour in preaching the Gospel would be in vain, and become of no effect through their observance of days, months, times, and years? because that hereby the pure spiritual and evangelic worship of God was corrupted, they bringing into it that which God had removed, and so became guilty of will worship; their Christian liberty was infringed, and they brought into bondage, a deliverance from which the Gospel proclaims; the doctrine of free grace in pardon, justification, and salvation, was made void, they observing these things in order to procure them thereby; and it was virtually and tacitly saying, that Christ was not come in the flesh, which is the main article of the Gospel; for since these things had respect to him, and were to continue no longer than till his coming, to keep on the observation of them, was declaring that he was not come; which is in effect to set aside the whole Gospel, and the ministration of it; so that the apostle might justly fear, that by such a proceeding all his labour, and the pains he had took to preach the Gospel, and salvation by Christ unto them, would be in vain.

I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Galatians 4:11. Φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς, μήπως κ.τ.λ.] not attraction (Winer, Usteri, Olshausen, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Buttmann), because, if this had been the case, ὑμεῖς must have been the subject of μήπως κ.τ.λ. (Plat. Legg. x. p. 886 A: φοβοῦμαί γε τοὺς μοχθηροὺςμή πως ὑμῶν καταφρονήσωσιν. Phaedr. p. 232 C, φοβούμενοι τοὺς μὲν οὐσίαν κεκτημένους, μὴ χρήμασιν αὐτοὺς ὑπερβάλωνται. Diod. Sic. iv. 40; Thuc. iv. 1. 1; Xen. Anab. iii. 5. 18, vii. 1. 2; Soph. Trach. 547): see the passages in Winer, p. 581 ff. [E. T. 781 f.]; Krüger, gramm. Unters. III. p. 162 ff.; Kühner, II. p. 611. On the contrary, φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς is to be taken by itself, and μήπως κ.τ.λ. as a more precise definition of it: “I am afraid about you, lest perhaps I,” etc. Comp. Plat. Phaedr. p. 239 D: τοιοῦτον σῶμα οἱ φίλοιφοβοῦνται (are apprehensive about it). Soph. O. R. 767: δέδοικʼ ἐμαυτὸν …, μὴ πολλʼ ἄγαν εἰρημένʼ ᾖ μοι. It is not without cause that Paul has added ὑμᾶς, but in the consciousness that his apprehension had reference not to his own interests (his possibly fruitless labour, taken by itself), but to his readers; they themselves were the object of his anxiety, their deliverance, their salvation. The mode of expression is analogous also in a hostile sense, e.g. Xen. Hell. ii. 3. 18: ἐφοβοῦντο τὸν Θηραμένην, μὴ συῤῥυείησαν πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ πολῖται. Thuc. iv. 8. Galatians 5 : τὴν δὲ νῆσον ταύτην φοβούμενοι, μὴ ἐξ αὐτῆς τὸν πόλεμον σφίσι ποιῶνται.

εἰκῆ] without saving result (Galatians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 15:2), because ye are in the course of falling away from the life of Christian faith, which through my labours was instituted among you.

κεκοπίακα] Perfect indicative; for the thought was before the apostle’s mind, that this case had actually occurred. Hermann, ad Eur. Med. 310, Elmsl.; Winer, p. 469 [E. T. 631]; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 84 E.

εἰς ὑμᾶς] for you; εἰς denotes the reference of the toilsome labour which he had undergone to the Galatians. Comp. Romans 16:6Luther (1524), moreover, aptly remarks on Galatians 4:11 : “Lacrymas Pauli haec verba spirant.”Galatians 4:11-20. DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE APOSTLE AT THE CHANGED FEELING OF HIS CONVERTS; REMINISCENCES OF THE PAST; PATHETIC APPEAL TO OLD AFFECTION; PROTEST AGAINST PRESENT ESTRANGEMENT.11. I am afraid of you] Sad thought, that all the toil which he had undergone on their behalf might prove to have been in vain! The possibility of such a result softens his tone, and as he thinks of his own labours, he will appeal to them by their memory of the past—of their reception of him and of his message ‘at the first’.

The thought of having bestowed labour in vain has always been one of the trials of the faithful messenger of God. It was so in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14), of Isaiah, (Isaiah 53:1). It finds frequent expression in the Epistles of St Paul (1 Corinthians 15:14; Galatians 2:2; Php 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). The assurance given long ago (Isaiah 55:11) is still needed and still in force.Galatians 4:11. Ὑμᾶς you) I do not fear this for my own sake, but for yours.—εἰς ὑμᾶς) on you; an emphatic expression.Verse 11. - I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain (φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς μήπῶς εἰκῆ κεποπίακα εἰς ὑμᾶς I am afraid of you, lest by any means 1 have bestowed labour upon you in vain. That is, this behaviour of yours makes me fear whether I may not have bestowed labour upon you fruitlessly. A similar construction of μή πως with an indicative occurs in 1 Thessalonians 3:5, Μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειράζων, "Fearing, whether the tempter may not have tempted you;" followed by the subjunctive, Καὶ εἰς κένον γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν, "And lest our labour should [in the as yet future result] prove to be for no good." This passage in the Thessalonians serves to illustrate the nature of the mischief, which, in the present case, the apostle feared might result. For one thing, there was the hurt, the perhaps fatal hurt, which the Galatian believers might themselves receive from that virtual renouncement of their spiritual inheritance which they now seemed to be foolishly making. But there was also the disappointment which would accrue to himself through the failure of his work among them: "For what," as he wrote to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, "is our hope, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?" The same anticipated joy he speaks of in writing to the Philippians, as about to accrue to himself from the steadfastness of his converts: "That I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain, neither labour in vain." This anticipation was a joy which he would fain not have wrested from him. I am afraid of you (φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς)

Not a felicitous translation, though retained by Rev. Rather, "I am afraid for you or concerning you." The second ὑμᾶς is not attracted into the principal clause so as to read, "I am afraid lest I have bestowed labor," etc. The two clauses are distinct. I am afraid about you: then the reason for the fear is added, lest I have bestowed, etc.

Upon you (εἰς ὑμᾶς)

Lit. into you. The labor, though in vain, had born directly upon its object. See the same phrase Romans 16:6.

In vain (εἰκῇ)

Comp. Galatians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 15:2, and εἰς to no purpose, Philippians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. After all my labor, you may return to Judaism. Luther says: "These words of Paul breathe tears."

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