Galatians 1
Vincent's Word Studies
The Epistle to the Galatians


By the churches of Galatia which Paul addresses (Galatians 1:2) are most probably meant the churches in the Roman province of Galatia; those namely in Iconium, Pisidian Antioch, Lystra, and Derbe; and not the Christians living in the Galatian district lying to the north and east of Lycaonia and Phrygia, which formed only a part of the Roman province, and the chief cities of which were Ancyra, Tavium, and Pessinus. The Roman province was formed by Augustus, 25 b.c., and included Lycaonia, Isauria, southeastern Phrygia, and a portion of Pisidia. The churches in this province were founded by Paul in his first missionary tour, the account of which is given Acts 13, 15.

The South Galatian hypothesis supplies a defect in the history of the Pauline churches, which, on the other, it is difficult to account for. On the North Galatian hypothesis, although the Galatian churches were the scene of a violent conflict between Paul and the Judaising Christians, and the recipients of one of Paul's most important letters, and are therefore entitled to an important place in the history of the apostolic churches, - no mention of their origin or foundation occurs in the Book of Acts, while the founding of the churches of Pisidia and Lycaonia, which are nowhere named by Paul, is expressly narrated. On the other hypothesis, we have in Acts 13, 15, a detailed account of the foundation of the Galatian churches.

From the notices in the Acts and in the Epistle, it appears that Paul's preaching in Galatia met with a favorable reception. See Acts 13:42, Acts 13:48, Acts 13:49; Acts 14:1; Galatians 4:13. We do not know how long it was before the churches were invaded by Jewish emissaries, nor whence these came. They probably came from the Judaistic circles of the mother-church at Jerusalem, although it is held by some that they belonged to the Jewish Christian constituency of the churches in Galatia. They declared that Paul was not an apostle, but at most only a disciple of the apostles. He had had no personal knowledge of Christ: the contents of his gospel were derived from men, and therefore he was entitled to no authority. All questions should be referred to the mother-church in Jerusalem, especially to the great apostles of the circumcision, the pillars of the church, James, Peter, and John. Moreover, Paul's teaching that righteousness was based only upon faith in Christ and not upon circumcision and legal observance, contradicted the historical revelation of God, since God promised salvation to Abraham and to his seed on the ground of circumcision; and, in order to carry the promise into effect, made the covenant of the law forever with the people of Israel, who were to receive the divine blessing on condition of observing the divine commands. His teaching, moreover, encouraged moral license, and therefore contravened all moral principle (Galatians 5:13). They further accused him of being a man-pleaser, seeking a following and adapting his preaching to the tastes of his hearers; preaching circumcision to those who were inclined to accept it, and uncircumcision to such as wished to refuse it (Galatians 5:11).

These intruders were not proselytes, but born Jews, Jewish Christians, with a Pharisaic tendency like that of those who, in Antioch and Jerusalem, sought to impose circumcision and legal observance upon Gentile Christians (Acts 15:1, Acts 15:5; Galatians 2:4). They demanded that the Gentile Christians should be incorporated by circumcision with the community of Israel, and should observe the leading requirements of the Mosaic law (Galatians 5:2, Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12). They laid great stress on the observance of sacred seasons (Galatians 4:10). "They prescribed a cultus with holy days and festivals, which contained a more seductive charm than the exposition of the word; for it offered compensation for the heathenism they had abandoned, and the old disposition once revived might easily have found in it a congenial home." They did not emphasize the solemn duties which followed circumcision, and which Paul himself forcibly stated (Galatians 5:3; comp. Galatians 3:10); but they recommended circumcision as an easy way of attaining salvation through mere formal incorporation with the true people of God, and also as a protection against persecution (Galatians 6:12; comp. Galatians 5:11).

These efforts bore fruit among the Galatians. Having thrown off the corruptions of their heathen faith and worship, they again came into bondage to "the weak and beggarly elements" which they had outgrown (Galatians 4:9). The slightest tendency to such a lapse was met and fostered by the daily appeal of the pagan cult amid which they lived, an elaborate and impressive system, fortified with a code of rules and administered by a powerful hierarchy, the whole presenting a striking external resemblance to the Jewish ceremonial system. As Professor Ramsay observes: "It is not until this is properly apprehended that Galatians 4:3-11 becomes clear and natural. Paul in that passage implies that the Judaising movement of the Christian Galatians is a recurrence to their old heathen type." Paul describes them as arrested in a course of obedience to the truth which they had been running well (Galatians 5:7): as soon removed into a different gospel (Galatians 1:6): as bewitched by an evil eye (Galatians 3:1): as pervaded with an evil leaven (Galatians 5:9). They were beginning, in part at least, to observe the Jewish ceremonial law: they were depending upon the law for justification: they were declining from a spiritual to a fleshly economy: they were beginning to regard as an enemy the friend and teacher whom, not so long ago, they had received as an angel of God, and for whom they would have plucked out their own eyes (Galatians 4:14, Galatians 4:15).

To what extent the Galatian Christians had been prevailed on to accept circumcision, we do not know. The writing of this letter, however, implies that Paul did not regard this evil as past arresting.

The letter itself is marked by unity of purpose, cohesion of thought, and force and picturesqueness of diction. Like 2nd Corinthians and Philippians it is intensely personal. Like the former of those Epistles it reveals the apostle's keen sensitiveness to the attitude of his readers toward himself. It is indignant and severe, with dashes of bitterness, yet it contains touches of affectionate reminiscence. It is pervaded and controlled by the one purpose of meeting and correcting the Galatian apostasy in its twofold form of repudiating his apostolic right and the doctrine of salvation by faith. The letter falls into three parts: chs. 1, 2, maintaining the independence and authority of his apostleship, and the divine origin of his gospel. Chapters 3, 4, defending the intrinsic truth of his gospel. Chapters 5, 6, exhibiting the moral consequences which legitimately and logically result from his gospel.

The relationship of the Epistle to the Roman letter is marked, yet it has its special characteristics as distinct from Romans. It bears the character of a letter more distinctly than Romans, which is a treatise. It lays a more distinct emphasis upon the person and apostolic authority of Paul, and its dominant conception is the freedom of the Christian, as in Romans the dominant conception is justification by faith. Romans is more positively doctrinal; Galatians more apologetic and polemic as against Judaism. Romans treats circumcision as a question of practice; Galatians as a question of law. As in Romans, faith is emphasized over against the works of the law as the ground of justification before God; but equally with Romans the divinity and sanctity of the law are recognised. The law is holy, and just and good. It is the expression of God's sovereign and righteous will. It reflects his character, and if one could keep it he would live by it (Galatians 3:12); all this, while it remains true that "by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians 2:16).

Accordingly the ethics of the Epistle are stern and uncompromising. The picture of the works of the flesh is perhaps not as powerful and lurid as that in the first chapter of Romans It is drawn in fewer lines, and is offset and enforced by a picture of the fruits of the Spirit. Yet the one is no less distinct and unmistakable than the other. In Romans the sins of the Gentile world are massed in a fearful catalogue; in Galatians single passages here and there afford glimpses of deeply-rooted evil tendencies in the life of the newly-converted Gentile, which show how hard it had been for him to divest himself of his pagan license, and which contain within themselves possibilities of future degeneracy. We see a conceit of higher knowledge and larger liberty which might readily seize upon "occasions to the flesh," and run into what some one has aptly styled "the bigotry of illumination," and the selfishness of fancied deeper insight (Galatians 5:15; Galatians 6:2-5). The same conceit appears in the weakness and inconstancy which readily succumb to the flattering overtures of pretentious Jewish emissaries (Galatians 4:12 ff; Galatians 5:26). Yet with rigid severity against such tendencies there is blended a tender compassion for the erring, a reasonable and kindly appreciation of the weakness of the new convert.

Professor Sabatier (l' Aptre Paul) says of the Epistle: "The style does not sustain the thought; it is the thought which sustains the style, giving to it its force, its life, its beauty. Thought presses on, overcharged, breathless and hurried, dragging the words after it.... Unfinished phrases, daring omissions, parentheses which leave us out of sight and out of breath, rabbinical subtleties, audacious paradoxes, vehement apostrophes, - pour in like surging billows. Mere words in their ordinary meaning are insufficient to sustain this overwhelming plenitude of thought and feeling. Every phrase is obliged, so to speak, to bear a double and triple burden."

The authenticity of the letter is generally conceded.

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
An apostle

This title is prefixed to Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians. Here with special emphasis, because Paul's apostleship had been challenged.

Of men - by man (ἀπ' ἀνθρώπων - δἰ ἀνθρώπου)

Better, from men - through man or a man. In contradiction of the assertion that he was not directly commissioned by Jesus Christ, like the twelve, but only by human authority. From men, as authorising the office; through man, as issuing the call to the person. He thus distinguishes himself from false apostles who did not derive their commissions from God, and ranks himself with the twelve. Man does not point to any individual, but is in antithesis to Jesus Christ, or may be taken as equals any man.

By Jesus Christ

See Acts 11:4-6; 1 Corinthians 11:1.

And God the Father

The genitive, governed by the preceding διὰ by or through. The idea is the same as an apostle by the will of God: 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1. Διὰ is used of secondary agency, as Matthew 1:22; Matthew 11:2; Luke 1:70; Acts 1:16; Hebrews 1:2. But we find διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ by the will of God, Romans 15:32; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, etc., and διὰ θεοῦ by God, Galatians 4:7. Also δἰ οὗ (God), 1 Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 2:10.

Who raised him from the dead (τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν)

It was the risen Christ who made Paul an apostle. For resurrection the N.T. uses ἐγείρειν to raise up; ἐξεγείρειν to raise out of; ἔγερσις raising or rising; ἀνιστάναι to raise up; ἀνάστασις and ἐξανάστασις raising up and raising up out of. With νεκρὸς dead are the following combinations: ἐγείρειν ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν (never ἀπὸ νεκρῶν) to raise from the dead; ἐγ. ἐκ νεκ. or τῶν νεκ. to raise out of the dead; ἀναστήσαι to raise, ἀναστῆναι to be raised or to rise ἐκ. νεκ. (never ἀπὸ); ἀνάστ. ἐκ. νεκ.; or τῶν νεκ. resurrection of the dead; ἀνάστ. ἐκ. νεκ.; ἐξανάστασις ἐκ. νεκ rising or resurrection out of the dead or from among. It is impossible to draw nice distinctions between these phrases.

And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
Brethren - with me

The circle of Paul's colleagues or more intimate friends. Comp. Philippians 4:21, Philippians 4:22, where the brethren with me are distinguished from all the saints - the church members generally.

Unto the churches of Galatia

See Introduction. This is a circular letter to several congregations. Note the omission of the commendatory words added to the addresses in the two Thessalonian and first Corinthian letters.

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Grace to you, etc.

See on 1 Thessalonians 1:1. He will not withhold the wish for the divine grace and peace even from those whom he is about to upbraid.

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:
Gave 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.

To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
To whom be glory, etc.

For similar doxologies see Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27; Ephesians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:17.

Forever and ever (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων)

Lit. unto the ages of the ages. See additional note on 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and comp. Romans 16:27; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18. Often in Revelation. In lxx. habitually in the singular: see Psalm 89:29; Psalm 110:3, 30. In the doxology the whole period of duration is conceived as a succession of cycles.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
I marvel (θαυμάζω)

Often by Greek orators of surprise as something reprehensible. So in New Testament Mark 6:6; John 7:21; Luke 11:38; John 4:27.

So soon (οὕτως ταχέως)

Better, so quickly. Paul does not mean so soon after a particular event, as their conversion, or his last visit, or the entry of the false teachers, - but refers to the rapidity of their apostasy; ταχέως being used absolutely as always.

Removed (μετατίθεσθε)

A.V. misses the sense of the middle voice, removing or transferring yourselves, and also the force of the continuous present, are removing or going over, indicating an apostasy not consummated but in progress. The verb is used in Class. of altering a treaty, changing an opinion, desertion from an army. For other applications see Acts 7:16; Hebrews 7:12; Hebrews 11:5. Comp. lxx, Deuteronomy 27:17; Proverbs 23:10; Isaiah 29:17. Lightfoot renders are turning renegades.

Him that called (τοῦ καλέσαντος)

God. Not neuter and referring to the gospel. Calling, in the writings of the apostles, is habitually represented as God's work. See Romans 8:30; Romans 9:11; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Galatians 1:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:15; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3.

Into the grace (ἐν χάριτι)

Into is wrong. It should be by.

Another gospel (ἕτερον)

Rather a different, another sort of gospel. See Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:7; Luke 18:10. In illustration of the differences between ἄλλος another and ἕτερος different, see 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:40; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Romans 8:23.

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Another (ἄλλο)

A different gospel is not another gospel. There is but one gospel.

But (εἰ μὴ)

Rev. only. As if he had said, "there is no other gospel, but there are some who trouble you with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel."

Some that trouble (οἱ ταράσσοντες)

The article with the participle marks these persons as characteristically troublesome - the troublers. Comp. Luke 18:9, of those who were characteristically self-righteous. For trouble in the sense of disturbing faith and unsettling principle, see Galatians 5:10; Acts 15:24. Not necessarily, as Lightfoot, raising seditions.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

See on 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

Angel from heaven (ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ)

The phrase only here. "Angels in heaven or the heavens," Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Mark 13:32. "Angels of the heavens," Matthew 24:36.

Other than that (παρ' ὃ)

Roman Catholic interpreters insist that παρ' should be rendered contrary to, though the Vulg. gives praeterquam besides. Some Protestant interpreters insist on besides as being against supplementing the gospel with traditions. The explanation is found in the previous words, a different gospel. Any gospel which is different from the one gospel, is both beside and contrary to.

Accursed (ἀνάθεμα)

See on Romans 9:3, and see on offerings, Luke 21:5. Comp. κατάρα, curse and see on ἐπικατάρατος cursed, Galatians 3:13. In lxx. always curse, except Leviticus 27:28, and the apocryphal books, where it is always gift or offering. By Paul always curse: see Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 16:22. The sense of excommunication, introduced by patristic writers, does not appear in New Testament.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
As we said before (ὡς προειρήκαμεν)

Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2; Philippians 3:18. Not to be referred to the preceding verse, since the compound verb would be too strong, and now in the following clause points to an earlier time, a previous visit. Comp. Galatians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:6.

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
For do I now persuade (ἄρτι γὰρ - πείθω)

For introduces a justification of the severe language just used. The emphasis is on now, which answers to now in Galatians 1:9. I have been charged with conciliating men. Does this anathema of mine look like it? Is it a time for conciliatory words now, when Judaising emissaries are troubling you (Galatians 1:7) and persuading you to forsake the true gospel? Persuade signifies conciliate, seek to win over.

Or God

Persuade or conciliate God is an awkward phrase; but the expression is condensed, and persuade is carried forward from the previous clause. This is not uncommon in Paul's style: See Plm 1:5; Ephesians 1:15; Philippians 2:6, where μορφὴ form, applied to God, is probably the result of μορφὴν δούλου form of a servant (Galatians 1:7) on which the main stress of the thought lies.

But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
I certify (γνωρίζω)

Or, I make known. Certify, even in older English, is to assure or attest, which is too strong for γνωρίζειν to make known or declare. This, which in the New Testament is the universal meaning of γνωρίζειν, and the prevailing sense in lxx, is extremely rare in Class., where the usual sense is to become acquainted with. For the formula see on 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

After man (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον)

According to any human standard. The phrase only in Paul. See Romans 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Corinthians 15:32. Κατὰ ἀνθρώπους according to men, 1 Peter 4:6.

For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Of man (παρὰ ἀνθρώπου)

Better, from man. Παρὰ from emphasizes the idea of transmission, and marks the connection between giver and receiver. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:14; Acts 10:22. In the Gospels and Acts παραλαμβάνειν usually means to take, in the sense of causing to accompany, as Matthew 4:5; Matthew 17:1; Mark 4:36, etc. Scarcely ever in the sense of receive: see Mark 7:4. In Paul only in the sense of receive, and only with παρὰ, with the single exception of 1 Corinthians 11:23 (ἀπὸ). The simple λαμβάνω usually with παρὰ, but with ἀπὸ, 1 John 2:27; 1 John 3:22.

By the revelation of Jesus Christ (δἰ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ)

Not, by Jesus Christ being revealed to me, but, I received the gospel by Jesus Christ's revealing it to me. The subject of the revelation is the gospel, not Christ. Christ was the revealer. Rev. (it came to me) through revelation of Jesus Christ.

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Conversation (ἀναστροφήν)

Better, manner of life. See on 1 Peter 1:15.

In the Jews' religion (ἐν τῷ Ἱουδαΐσμῷ)

Only here and Galatians 1:14. Lit. in Judaism. It signifies his national religious condition. In lxx, 2 Macc. 2:21; 8:2; 14:38; 4 Macc. 4:26.

Beyond measure (καθ' ὑπερβολὴν)

P. Lit. according to excess. The noun primarily means a casting beyond, thence superiority, excellency. See 2 Corinthians 4:7, 2 Corinthians 4:17. It is transliterated in hyperbole. For similar phrases comp. 1 Corinthians 2:1; Acts 19:20; Acts 3:17; Acts 25:23.

Wasted (ἐπόρθουν)

Better, laid waste. In Class. applied not only to things - cities, walls, fields, etc. - but also to persons. So Acts 9:21.

And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Profited (προέκοπτον)

Better, advanced. See on is far spent, Romans 13:12. Paul means that he outstripped his Jewish contemporaries in distinctively Jewish culture, zeal, and activity. Comp. Philippians 3:4-6.

Equals (συνηλικιώτας)

N.T.o. The A.V. is indefinite. The meaning is equals in age. So Rev., of mine own age.

Nation (γένει)

Race. Not sect of the Pharisees. Comp. Philippians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Romans 9:3.

Zealous (ζηλωτὴς)

Lit. a zealot. The extreme party of the Pharisees called themselves "zealots of the law"; "zealots of God." See on Simon the Canaanite, Mark 3:18. Paul describes himself under this name in his speech on the stairs, Acts 22:3. Comp. Philippians 3:5, Philippians 3:6.

Traditions (παραδόσεων)

The Pharisaic traditions which had been engrafted on the law. See Matthew 15:2, Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:3, Mark 7:13, and on 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
It pleased (εὐδόκησεν)

See on εὐδοκία good pleasure, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Separated (ἀφορίσας)

Set apart: designated. See on Romans 1:1, and see on declared, Romans 1:4. The A.V. wrongly lends itself to the sense of the physical separation of the child from the mother.

From my mother's womb (ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου)

Before I was born. Others, from the time of my birth. A few passages in lxx. go to sustain the former view: Judges 16:17; Isaiah 64:2, 24; 66:1, 5. That view is also favored by those instances in which a child's destiny is clearly fixed by God before birth, as Samson, Judges 16:17; comp. Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; John the Baptist, Luke 1:15. See also Matthew 19:12. The usage of ἐκ as marking a temporal starting point is familiar. See John 6:66; John 9:1; Acts 9:33; Acts 24:10.

Called (καλέσας)

See on Romans 4:17. Referring to Paul's call into the kingdom and service of Christ. It need not be limited to his experience at Damascus, but may include the entire chain of divine influences which led to his conversion and apostleship. He calls himself κλητὸς ἀπόστολος an apostle by call, Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1.

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
To reveal his Son in me (ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ)

In N.T. ἀποκαλύπτειν to reveal is habitually used with the simple dative of the subject of the revelation, as Luke 10:21. Once with εἰς unto, Romans 8:18 : with ἐν in of the sphere in which the revelation takes place, only here, unless Romans 1:17 be so explained; but there ἐν is probably instrumental. Render ἐν here by the simple in: in my spirit, according to the familiar N.T. idea of God revealing himself, living and working in man's inner personality. See, for instance, Romans 1:19; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:10, Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:25; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 John 2:5, 1 John 2:14, etc. Lightfoot explains, to reveal his Son by or through me to others. But apart from the doubtful use of ἐν, this introduces prematurely the thought of Paul's influence in his subsequent ministry. He is speaking of the initial stages of his experience.

Immediately (εὐθέως)

Connect only with I conferred not, etc. Not with the whole sentence down to Arabia. Paul is emphasizing the fact that he did not receive his commission from men. As soon as God revealed his Son in me, I threw aside all human counsel.

Conferred (προσανέθεμην)

Po. and only in Galatians. Rare in Class. The verb ἀνατιθέναι means to lay upon; hence intrust to. Middle voice, to intrust one's self to; to impart or communicate to another. The compounded preposition πρὸς implies more than direction; rather communication or relation with, according to a frequent use of πρὸς. The whole compound then, is to put one's self into communication with. Wetstein gives an example from Diodorus, De Alexandro, xvii. 116, where the word is used of consulting soothsayers.

Flesh and blood

Always in N.T. with a suggestion of human weakness or ignorance. See Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 6:12.

Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Went I up (ἀνῆλθον)

Comp. Galatians 1:18. Only in this chapter, and John 6:3. More commonly ἀναβαίνειν, often of the journey to Jerusalem, probably in the conventional sense in which Englishmen speak of going up to London, no matter from what point. See Matthew 20:17; Mark 10:32; John 2:13; Acts 11:2. In Acts 18:22 the verb is used absolutely of going to Jerusalem. The reading ἀπῆλθον I went away had strong support, and is adopted by Weiss. In that case the meaning would be went away to Jerusalem from where I then was.

Apostles before me

In point of seniority. Comp. Romans 16:7.


It is entirely impossible to decide what Paul means by this term, since the word was so loosely used and so variously applied. Many think the Sinaitic peninsula is meant (Stanley, Farrar, Matheson, Lightfoot). Others, the district of Auranitis near Damascus (Lipsius, Conybeare and Howson, Lewin, McGiffert). Others again the district of Arabia Petraea.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
To see (ἱστορῆσαι)

N.T.o. 1. To inquire into: 2. to find out by inquiring: 3. to gain knowledge by visiting; to become personally acquainted with. In lxx, only 1 Esd. 1:33, 42, to relate, to record. Often in Class. The word here indicates that Paul went, not to obtain instruction, but to form acquaintance with Peter.


See on Matthew 16:18; see on John 1:42; see on 1 Corinthians 1:12.

But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Save James (εἰ μὴ)

With the usual exceptive sense. I saw none save James. Not, I saw none other of the apostles, but I saw James. James is counted as an apostle, though not reckoned among the twelve. For Paul's use of "apostle," see on 1 Thessalonians 1:1, and comp. 1 Corinthians 15:4-7.

The Lord's brother

Added in order to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21; Matthew 10:2; Mark 10:35), who was still living, and from James the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3). The Lord's brother means that James was a son of Joseph and Mary. This view is known as the Helvidian theory, from Helvidius, a layman of Rome, who wrote, about 380, a book against mariolatry and ascetic celibacy. The explanations which differ from that of Helvidius have grown, largely, out of the desire to maintain the perpetual virginity of Mary. Jerome has given his name to a theory known as the Hieronymian put forth in reply to Helvidius, about 383, according to which the brethren of the Lord were the sons of his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Alphaeus or Clopas, and therefore Jesus' cousins. A third view bears the name of Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus (ob. 404), and is that the Lord's brothers were sons of Joseph by a former wife.

Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Regions (κλίματα)

Po. Comp. Romans 15:23; 2 Corinthians 11:10. Κλΐμα, originally an inclination or slope of ground: the supposed slope of the earth from the equator to the pole. The ancient geographers ran imaginary parallel lines from the equator toward the pole, and the spaces or zones or regions between these lines, viewed in their slope or inclination toward the pole, were κλίματα. The word came to signify the temperature of these zones, hence our climate. In Chaucer's treatise on the Astrolabe, chapter 39 is headed "Description of the Meridional Lyne, of Longitudes and Latitudes of Cities and Towns from on to another of Clymatz." He says: "The longitude of a clymat is a lyne imagined fro est to west, y-lyke distant by-twene them alle. The latitude of a clymat is a lyne imagined fro north to south the space of the erthe, fro the byginning of the firste clymat unto the verrey ende of the same clymat, even directe agayns the pole artik." In poetical language, "climes" is used for regions of the earth, as Milton:

"Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms."

Syria and Cilicia

Syria, in the narrower sense, of the district of which Antioch was the capital: not the whole Roman province of Syria, including Galilee and Judaea. Matthew 4:24; Luke 2:2; Acts 20:3. This district was the scene of Paul's first apostolic work among the Gentiles. Cilicia was the southeasterly province of Asia Minor, directly adjoining Syria, from which it was separated by Mt. Pierius and the range of Amanus. It was bordered by the Mediterranean on the south. It was Paul's native province, and its capital was Tarsus, Paul's birthplace.

And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
Was unknown (ἤμην ἀγνοούμενος)

Better, was still unknown, the imperfect denoting that he remained unknown during his stay in Syria and Cilicia.

Of Judaea

The province, as distinguished from Jerusalem, where he must have been known as the persecutor of the church. See Acts 9:1, Acts 9:2.

Which were in Christ

See on 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
They had heard (ἀκούοντες ἧσαν)

Correlative with I was unknown, Galatians 1:22. Note the periphrasis of the participle with the substantive verb, expressing duration. They were hearing all the time that I was thus unknown to them in person.

The faith

See on Acts 6:7, and comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:2. The subjective conception of faith as trustful and assured acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, tends to become objective, so that the subjective principle is sometimes regarded objectively. This is very striking in the Pastoral Epistles.

And they glorified God in me.
In me

The sense is different from that in Galatians 1:16, see note. Here the meaning is that they glorified God as the author and source of what they saw in me.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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