The Divine Lamp

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 10, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Galatians 1 followed by his commentary on verses 11;20. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS

The Apostle commences this Epistle by commending his own Apostolic authority. This line of defence was for him a duty of necessity, and was forced upon him by the false teachers, who, the more effectually to unsettle the faith of the Gentile converts in the sound doctrines which they had heard from his lips, questioned his Apostolic commission, and insisted that he should be disregarded, as he was but the disciple of the other Apostles, from whose practice, in reference to the Jewish ceremonial law, he differed. In order to guard the Galatians against the dangerous consequences of such false insinuations, the Apostle puts forward his immediate call by Christ himself (verse 1). After the usual Apostolic salutation, he prepares to enter on the subject of the Epistle, by ascribing our justification to the merits of Christ, in which it is insinuated, that it is from him, and not from the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, it comes (2–5). He expresses the occasion of his writing this Epistle, and shows the unchangeable truth of the doctrine which he himself taught them, and denounces all persons presuming to teach otherwise (6–9). Knowing how calculated strong language of this sort would be to offend those against whom it was directed, he says, he has no desire to please men and, therefore, no desire to use bland conciliatory language; for, if he were to seek the applause of men, as the false teachers do, he would never have become a Christian (10–11). He employs the remainder of the chapter in fully refuting the calumny of such as said that he received his Gospel from other men. And from the history of his life, both before and after his conversion, he shows how foolish it is to say that he could either have received, or learned it, from any mortal man living. Hence, he received it from the abundant grace of the Holy Ghost, and immediately, without human intervention, from Christ himself.

11 For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

But, it is God whom I am endeavouring to please, and before him, and not before men, I am pleading my cause. For, I wish to make known to you, that it is from God that I receive the gospel which I preach, and that it is not from man, nor is it in any respect human.

He proves that it was not before man, but before God, that he was pleading his cause; since the gospel which he preached was from God, and nowise human.

12 For neither did I receive it of man: nor did I learn it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

For neither did I receive it at once, nor did I learn it gradually, from any man, but I received it immediately from the revelation of Jesus Christ.

He proves in the following verses that he neither “received” the gospel at once, nor “learned it” by degrees, from any man, since he employed both physical and moral means for the destruction of the same gospel.

13 For you 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.

For, that I would not submit to be taught the gospel by any man, must be clear to you, who have heard of my mode of living while formerly professing the Jewish religion. You must have heard of the violent measures I resorted to, for the purpose of persecuting the faithful, and of totally destroying the Church of God.

He had recourse to violent measures in persecuting the faithful. He could not, therefore, have been instructed by them. He would not submit to any such process.

14 And I made progress in the Jew’s religion above many of my equals in my own nation, being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

You also heard of my progress in the knowledge of the Jewish religion, in which I outstripped my equals of my own religious belief, as I did in my excessive zeal for the laws and institutions handed down to me by my fathers.

Again, he employed all possible moral means to destroy the Church, as was evinced by his zeal for the law of his fathers, in the knowledge, as well as in the zealous defence of which, he far outstripped his contemporaries, even of his own nation.

15 But when it pleased him who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace,

But when it pleased God (who gratuitously singled me out, and predestined me from my mother’s womb, and through a singular grace mercifully called me),

“Pleased him.” The common Greek text has, “pleased God,” the word “God” is not found in the Vatican MS. “Who separated me,” &c. This beginning of time in reference to St. Paul, is employed to express the eternity, without beginning, from which God had predestined him.

16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles: immediately I condescended not to flesh and blood.

To reveal to me his Son and the knowledge of his heavenly truths, for the purpose of proclaiming him to the Gentiles, I complied at once, without consulting, or conferring with, any man living.

“To reveal,” &c. This is connected with the words, “when it pleased him,” or, as the common Greek text has it, when it pleased God.… to reveal to me his Son, &c. Others connect these words with the entire preceding verse—When it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me to his grace, to reveal his Son (when it pleased him, I say), that I should preach him among the Gentiles, I immediately condescended not, &c. The Greek admits of either connexion. “Immediately I condescended not,” προσανεθεμην, &c., i.e., I complied at once, without consulting or holding communication with any man living.

17 Neither went I to Jerusalem, to the apostles who were before me: but I went into Arabia, and again I returned to Damascus.

Neither did I repair to Jerusalem for the purpose of conferring with those who were called before me to the apostleship; but I went at once to Arabia, and again returned to Damascus.

“I went to Arabia” Of course, it is understood from the entire context and verse 16, that he did so for the purpose of preaching the Gospel; for his scope in this passage, is to prove that he preached the Gospel without being sent by any Apostle, nay before he saw any other of the Apostles. The same appears from Acts, 9:20.

18 Then, after three years, I went to Jerusalem to see Peter: and I tarried with him fifteen days.

I afterwards, after the lapse of three years, went up to Jerusalem for the purpose of waiting on Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and paying him, as such, a complimentary visit; and I remained with him only fifteen days.

He stopped with St. Peter only fifteen days, a period too short to learn the Gospel from him. The Greek word for “see,” ἱστορῆσαι, signifies to visit for the purpose of making his acquaintance:—it implies paying a visit of respect.

Is it not said in the Acts (9:26), that after his conversion St. Paul fled to Jerusalem from Damascus? Yes; but it is added, “after many days elapsed” (verse 23), which may refer to the “three years” mentioned here. It may also be replied with St. Jerome, that although St. Paul had come to Jerusalem after flying from Damascus, immediately after his conversion, he came there, not to consult the Apostles, which is the only thing he asserts here, but from necessity, to save himself.

19 But other of the apostles I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord.

I saw none other of the Apostles, excepting James, the son of Mary Cleophas, who was sister to the Blessed Virgin.

. James, the son of Cleophas, was cousin to our Redeemer; and hence, by a Hebrew usage, called his “brother.”

20 Now the things which I write to you, behold, before God, I lie not.

All these things I assert on the solemn assurance of an oath, of which I make God the witness.

Fr. MacEvilly offers no comment on this verse except for the paraphrase.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 10, 2017

Gal 1:11. For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

I give you to understand (γνωριζω) , introduces a matter of serious moment (cf. 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Cor 15:1; 2 Cor 8:1).

The gospel, i.e., the doctrine preached by Paul to the Galatians.

Not according to man, i.e., not after a human standard, not human in its nature or condition.

Gal 1:12. For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul is here not considering so much the character, whether natural or supernatural, of the revelation he had received; he is insisting mainly on the fact that it came to him by revelation on the part of God (Acts 9:5-9; Acts 26:13-18). A divine doctrine could indeed be handed on by men, as is the case with subsequent preachers of the Gospel; but St. Paul, like the other Apostles, like Moses and the Prophets before them, enjoyed a far higher dignity than that of a simple repeater and transmitter of revelation: he had received his doctrine directly from Jesus Christ.

The doctrine thus received by Paul, according to Cornely, embraced the whole preaching of Christianity, the mysteries of the life, Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Doubtless, however, the general principles of Christ’s teachings were known to him before from the Apostolic preaching; it was these doctrines that he was opposing when converted, the spiritual meaning of which was unfolded to him after his conversion by the Saviour Himself (Lagrange).

Gal 1:13. For you 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.

You have heard, probably from the mouth of St. Paul himself and his companions when he first preached to the Galatians, or perhaps from the story told them by his enemies who would try to show thereby that Paul was inconsistent and self-contradictory in his preaching.

My conversation, i.e., my former life and practice.

The Jews’ religion, i.e., the cause of Judaism, considered as a religion.

The church of God, which St. Paul identifies with the infant Christian community, and which, as taking the place of ancient Israel, he persecuted beyond measure, i.e., more than any other of the Jews.

Gal 1:14. And I made progress in the Jews’ religion above many of my equals in my own nation, being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

The Apostle here tells us that, because of his special zeal for the traditions, i.e., the explanatory additions to the written Law handed down from age to age by his Jewish ancestors, he made more progress than many of the young men of his time. In truth he could have said with less of modesty that his progress was more than that of all his contemporaries.

These traditions which Paul, like the other Pharisees, regarded as sacred as the Law itself, were supposed to be a national tradition which had come down hand in hand with the Torah. Now is it at all probable that such a zealous Pharisee as Paul was could by any natural means have suddenly become a fervent Christian and preacher of the Gospel?

Gal 1:15. But when it pleased him, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Whereas before his conversion Paul had been dependent on the Law and the traditions of the ancients, afterwards he received his doctrine independently of any man, directly from God by divine revelation. Before he was born it pleased God to set him apart, to choose and predestine him for a special mission to be carried out at the time appointed by divine decree.

From my mother’s womb means, as the context shows, before his birth (Isa 7:16; Isa 49:1).

Called me, i.e., to Christianity and to the Apostolate at the same time (Acts 9:3-9; Acts 26:12-18) by means of a special and efficacious grace.

Gal 1:16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, immediately I condescended not to flesh and blood.

To reveal his Son to me, i.e., to make known to me the exalted mysteries of the Son of God. According to Lightfoot the revelation was made through St. Paul to others, but the natural meaning of εν εμοι here is that Paul realized interiorly, in his soul, the call of verse 15 (Lagrange, Cornely). That there were at the time also external manifestations of this revelation is clear from the account given of it by St. Paul in Acts 9:15-19, and Acts 26:12-14; but the Apostle is now concerned only with its internal effects on his soul.

Among the Gentiles. St. Paul’s special mission was to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, but this seems not to have been entirely plain to him from the beginning, since he first preached to the Jews. Gradually the great purpose of his call and the full meaning of his vision on the way to Damascus became clear to him (Acts 9:15).

Immediately I condescended, etc. This means that, following upon his vision on the way to Damascus, St. Paul at once understood, without the aid of human counsel, what he was to do, so clear and definite were the divine communications he had received. The Apostle is here not insisting so much on the prompt obedience he showed to his call, as upon the divine origin of his Apostolate; hence immediately (ευθεως) directly governs the two negative clauses that follow it, and not I went (απηλθον), as Lightfoot thinks.

Flesh and blood, i.e., any human beings. He is bringing out the contrast between Christ who, through revelation, spoke to him, and mortal, ignorant men whom he did not consult.

Gal 1:17. Neither went I to Jerusalem, to the apostles who were before me: but I went into Arabia, and again I returned to Damascus.

It might have been expected that if the Apostle did not seek counsel from others, he would at least go up to Jerusalem to confer with those who had preceded him in the Apostolate; but so clear and certain were his call and his revelations that he did not do so. Without much delay (Acts 9:19-21) he retired into Arabia, i.e., into the vast country south-east of Palestine, stretching at that time from the Euphrates to the Red Sea, and ruled over by Aretas IV from 9 b.c. to 40 a.d. This retirement into Arabia, where there was surely no one who could instruct him, is another proof that St. Paul did not take counsel with men or receive his Gospel from them.

What did the Apostle do in Arabia? According to Cornely, Lightfoot and others, he gave himself to meditation and prayer; according to the Fathers, he also preached there. This latter opinion would show more than the former the independence of St. Paul’s Gospel, and is in greater conformity with the text and with the Apostle’s temperament (Lagrange). Whether he visited Mt. Sinai or not is disputed.

Gal 1:18. Then, after three years, I went to Jerusalem, to see Peter, and I tarried with him fifteen days.

Then (επειτα), i.e., after having returned to Damascus and preached there for some time.

After three years, i.e., from the time of his conversion, so that three years elapsed before he met any other of the Apostles who could instruct him. These years were spent partly at Damascus, partly in Arabia.

To see (ιστορησαι) signifies more than is indicated by the English phrase; it means to make the acquaintance of an important person, or to visit places of renown for the purpose of paying them homage or respect. Hence this visit of Paul to Peter was out of respect for the head of the primitive Church, as all the Fathers have understood.

Fifteen days, i.e., for only a short visit, not long enough to be instructed in the teachings of the Gospel (cf. Acts 9:26-30). From the phrase, I tarried (επεμεινα), i.e., “I prolonged my stay,” it would seem that Paul remained longer with Peter than he had intended —another proof that he did not go up to Jerusalem to learn his Gospel.

Gal 1:19. But other of the apostles I saw none, saving James the brother of the Lord.

Saving James, ει μη ιακωβον. This phrase causes a difficulty. Some, like Zahn, understand it to imply that St. Paul did not consider James to be an Apostle in the strict sense of the term. Catholic critics of the present day are agreed that the meaning is not, “only James,” but, “save James,” thus holding that St. Paul did acknowledge James as a real Apostle. In speaking of the Apostle’s first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion St. Luke says (Acts 9:27) that “Barnabas brought him to the apostles” who, according to the present verse, must have been Peter and James. It is evident, however, that St. Paul on this visit was chiefly interested in seeing Peter, but this is only because he recognized Peter as the head of the Apostolic group and of the infant Church.

The brother, etc., i.e., the son of Alpheus (Luke 6:15), the cousin of our Lord. His father was Cleophas (Clopas) or Alpheus, and his mother was the sister of the Blessed Virgin (Theodoret).

Gal 1:20. Now the things which I write to you, behold, before God, I lie not.

This verse shows that St. Paul considered it a matter of prime importance to insist that what he had just said about his independence of the twelve was absolutely true. Naturally what he goes on to say is not less true, and further enforces the independence of his Gospel.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 4:31-5:12

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 14, 2017

PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS ARE NOW DEDUCED FROM THE PRINCIPALS LAID DOWN

A Summary of Galatians 4:31-5:12~In commencing the new section with Gal 4:31 we are following the division made by Bousset, Lagrange and Zahn. The recurrence of the word freedom joins it with what precedes, as a result with its sources. Many critics see in Gal 4:31 the last word of the allegory illustrating the two alliances, rather than the beginning of a practical conclusion. But the allegory was really concluded in Gal 4:28, and is presupposed in Gal 4:29-30. It seems better then to regard 31 as the point of transition between what has preceded and the section that now follows (Lagrange).

In the first place the Galatians must make their choice, either of the whole Law without Christ, or of the faith of Christ accompanied by charity without the Law. If they choose the Law, they must renounce Christ; if they wish to be Christians, then the Law must be abandoned (Gal 4:31-5:6). Having pointed out the dangers to which they are exposed, St. Paul next warns the Galatians to beware of false leaders who are courting a just and severe chastisement (Gal 5:7-12).

Gal 4:31. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.

So then (διό = dio). Better, “Hence,” or “consequently.” The general principle of the whole Epistle is here resumed under the color of the allegory, and the practical result of our being Christians is restated, namely, that we are free by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free, i.e., we are sons of the free woman and enjoy a freedom which we owe to Christ, the author of our liberty. This is the reading of the Vulgate, and the easiest for this clause. In the best MSS., however, and according to the Greek Fathers, this final clause of the present verse belongs to the first verse of the following chapter, and the meaning is probably: “Christ has liberated us for freedom, in order that we may be and may remain free”; or, if we join “stand” to “freedom,” we shall have: “Stand firm to the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.”

Gal 5:1. Stand fast, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.

Stand fast, i.e., in the liberty of the Gospel, as opposed to the slavery of your former condition in paganism and under the Law.

Gal 5:2. Behold, I Paul tell you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

I Paul, as an Apostle, as an Israelite of the race of Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin (Rom. 11:1), who, in times past, was an ardent defender of Jewish traditions (Gal. 1:14), and who, consequently, should not be suspected, as a Gentile convert might be, of prejudice against the Jews and the Law.

If you be circumcised, i.e., if you receive circumcision, thinking it a necessary means of salvation, then Christ shall profit you nothing, because you do not regard Him as entirely sufficient for you, and so deprive yourselves of the grace and friendship of Him alone who redeemed you and is able to save (cf. Lagr., h. I.).

St. Paul’s precise language here shows that the Judaizers were insisting on circumcision, not as something merely desirable, but as essential to salvation.

Gal 5:3. And I testify again to every man circumcising himself, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

This and the following verse repeat and amplify the thought of verse 2. If circumcision be necessary for salvation, then so is the entire Mosaic Law; and they who thus put themselves under the Law, by that very fact deprive themselves of Christ and His benefits.

Again may refer to what was said in the preceding verse, or to what St. Paul had taught the Galatians on his second visit to them.

Circumcising himself. Better, “Permitting himself to be circumcised,” i.e., he who is circumcised after Baptism. Circumcision was a public and a solemn engagement to fulfil the whole Law—a thing impossible, as we have seen, to man unassisted by grace. It seems probable that the Judaizers had not made it clear to the Galatians that the reception of circumcision included the obligation of observing the whole Law.

Gal 5:4. You are made void of Christ, you who are justified in the law: you are fallen from grace.

You are made void, etc. Better, “You are cut off from Christ as useless, you that would be justified by the law,” etc. From these words it seems pretty certain that the situation among the Galatians, while grave, had not come to the worst.

Are justified, i.e., would be justified (δικαιοῦσθε = dikaiousthe, conative). Fr. Callan indicates that the word is being used in a “conative” sense; i.e., expressing a wish, desire, or craving on the part of those contemplating being circumcised.

Gal 5:5. For we in spirit, by faith, wait for the hope of justice.

For we, i.e., as for us Christians.

In spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, according to the Greek Fathers; but, according to the majority of the Latin Fathers, in the spirit as opposed to the flesh, the principle of the Christian life. The distinction is not very marked, since the interior spirit and principles of good actions is a participation of the divine Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:14 ff.).

“Spirit” here is not to be joined with “by faith,” as if it meant the Holy Ghost who is given in consequence of faith. The spirit is the moving force or energy of the soul; while faith is the habit which, giving internal conviction of mind regarding supernatural truths, forms the basis of the Christian life.

By faith, i.e., by virtue of faith.

Wait for, i.e., look forward to with intense longing and security (απεκδεχομεθα = apekdechometha). Cf. Rom. 8:19, 23.

Justice does not mean justification, which is already supposed by St. Paul as the entrance to the Christian life; nor does it signify an increase of grace and holiness. We have here the subjective genitive (δικαιοσυνης = dikaiosynes), and so hope of justice means the hope which proceeds from justice. Never in St. Paul do we find justice used as a synonym of eternal life (Lagr.).

Gal 5:6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by charity.

For introduces the reasons which make firm our hope. To have been a Jew or a pagan is of no account in Christ Jesus, i.e., in the Christian life, which is a life united to Christ, and animated by His Spirit.

But faith that worketh, etc., i.e., faith, the basis of Christian life, moved, or energised, by charity or love of God, which shows itself in the performance of good works and in the keeping of the Commandments. These words bridge over the gulf which seems to separate the language of St. Paul and that of St. James. Both assert a principle of practical energy, as opposed to a barren, inactive theory (Lightfoot). ενεργουμενη (= energoumene) is considered passive by the Greek Fathers, but middle by all the Latins except Tertullian. In its passive sense it is perhaps more favorable to the doctrine of faith animated by charity, as by its form; but even in the middle voice it is by no means opposed to the Catholic doctrine, which never held that faith is constituted by charity.

Gal 5:7. You did run well; who hath hindered you, that you should not obey the truth?

The Galatians began so well; but someone has turned them, at least to a degree, away from the truth. Who is responsible for this change? There is still hope that they will not be lost entirely. Severe judgment awaits their seducers. Fr. Callan is here summarizing the basic points of verses 7-12.

You did run well, i.e., you were doing finely in the Christian life. The metaphor in “run” refers to the contests in the racecourses among the Greeks. Cf. 1 Cor. 9:24.

Who hath hindered you, i.e., who has got in your way. The allusion is still to the race-course.

The truth. The article (“the”) is wanting in Greek, but the reference without doubt is to the Gospel.

Gal 5:8. This persuasion is not from him that calleth you.

This persuasion, i.e., not to obey the truth (verse 7), to believe that circumcision is necessary for salvation, as the false teachers have told you.

Is not from him, etc., i.e., not from the Eternal Father (Gal 1:6) who called you to the Christian faith, but is rather from the evil one working through the Judaizers.

Gal 5:9. A little leaven corrupteth the whole lump.

A little leaven, i.e., a bad influence, even though small, will lead to total disaster, to accepting all the doctrines of the Judaizers. Leaven here may mean one point of false doctrine from the Judaizers (St. Chrys., Theoph., etc.) ; or those Galatians who had been already seduced, including the agitators themselves (Theod., St. Jerome, St. Aug., etc.). The latter opinion seems the more probable.

Leaven is usually in Scripture a symbol of evil influence, except in Matt. 13:33 and Luke 13:20 ff., where as a parable,
it illustrates the Kingdom of God.

Gal 5:10. I have confidence in you in the Lord: that you will not be of another mind: but he that troubleth you, shall bear the judgment, whosoever he be.

In you, i.e., as a body of the Church in Galatia. St. Paul firmly trusts the majority of the Christians there.

In the Lord, the source of all his hope and confidence, in whom the majority of the Galatians are securely united.

That you will not be. An expression purposely vague, since Paul does not know exactly what to think about the situation (Gal 4:20).

He that troubleth, etc., i. e., the leader of the disorder, whoever he was.

The judgment, i.e., the punishment suited to his offence.

Gal 5:11. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the scandal of the cross made void.

And I, etc. Better, “But I,” etc., in contrast to the false leader who was seducing them. St. Paul is not concerned with
what his enemies say about him. What this was is not clear. The Fathers think the Judaizers were saying that Paul himself was in favor of circumcision, basing their contention perhaps on the fact that he had circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3). This was, indeed, no argument, because Timothy had been circumcised not as a matter of necessity, but only as an expedient to further the preaching of the Gospel among those of Jewish origin.

If I yet preach, etc. This may mean, “If I again preach,” etc., alluding to the case of Timothy, or to some few similar instances, perhaps, which in reality were not a preaching of circumcision at all. More probably St. Paul, in the above phrase, is referring to the calumny of the Judaizers who falsely said he still preached circumcision. To refute such a calumny he asks why. then do the Jews persecute him for not practicing the Law, for preaching rather its abrogation (Acts 16:16 ff.; 17:5 ff.; 18:6, 9 ff.; 21:28).

Then is the scandal, etc. If Paul still preaches the necessity of circumcision, as his enemies say, then there is no reason why he should be enduring persecution for preaching the contrary; then the cross of Christ, as a means of salvation so scandalous to the Jews, is done away with. The supposition is so plainly false and absurd. The Jews found the cross a “scandal,” a “stumbling block” (1 Cor. 1:23), chiefly because it removed the obligation of the Law.

Gal 5:12. I would they were even cut off, who trouble you.

The sense of this verse is expressed very well by St. Thomas, h. 1., following the interpretation of all the Fathers: “Utinam non solum circumcidantur, sed totaliter castrentur(I wish that they be not only circumcised but totally castrated). The Apostle ironically wishes that those fanatical Judaizers, who are troubling the Galatians, would not only insist upon circumcision but upon complete castration, if this would please them better, thus imitating the heathen fanatics who practiced such mutilations in honor of the goddess Cybele. The Galatians could understand very well what St. Paul was saying here, because Pessinus, one of the principal towns of Galatia, was the home of the worship of Cybele (Light.). This is a possible interpretation. St Paul sometimes employed images that his formerly pagan converts could relate to. See this footnote to 1 Th 2:1-17 in the NABRE.  Many modern scholars appeal to Deut 23:1, however, in light of Isa 56:3, Wis 3:14 and Acts 8:26-39 such an appeal might be problematic. I would suggest the following: The Greek word translated above as “cut off” is apokopsontai, from the root, kopto, to chop or beat down. The same root appears in verse 7 where it was asked: “who has hindered (enekopson) you?” Both verses should be seen in light of verse 4: “You are made void of Christ, you who are justified in the law: you are fallen from grace.” The words “made void” translates katergethete, a word that can be translated as severed or separated, thus being synonymous with forms of the word kopto. Any Christian who accepts the rite of circumcision as necessary for salvation has been severed from Christ (4), and it is this the trouble makers in Galatia are trying to do, thus hindering or cutting them off (7). So St Paul wishes that the trouble makers would be cut off from the Galatains (12).

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Father Callan’s Introduction to St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 13, 2017

THE EPISTLE TO THE
GALATIANS

INTRODUCTION

I. Galatia and the Galatians. The original Galatians were the inhabitants of the country lying between Bithynia on the north, Pontus and Cappadocia on the east, Lycaonia on the south, and Phrygia on the west; this country was called Galatia Proper, or North Galatia. Its principal cities were Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium.

The Galatians were sprung from Gallic or Celtic tribes that migrated east from the west and north of Europe in the third century B.C. These were called Celtae by the colonists at Marseilles, Galatae by the Greeks, and Galli by the Romans (cf. Hayes, Paul and His Epistles, p. 280). Passing over the Alps into Italy they sacked Rome in 390 B.C., crossed the Danube and invaded Macedonia and Greece in 279 B.C., and finally penetrated into Asia Minor, and settled in the mountainous districts which thenceforth bore their name. Here they held undisputed sway for nearly a century. They were divided into three tribes: the Trocmi or Trogmi in the east with Tavium as their centre and capital, the Tectosages in the central part of the country with Ancyra as their capital, and the Tolistobogii or Tolistoboii in the west around Pessinus. They were a warlike people, and so harassed their neighbors that they became the terror of all Asia Minor. After many varying successes they were finally driven back and confined to their
own country around 234 B.C. by Attalus I, King of Pergamos. At length in 189 B.C. they were attacked and conquered by the Romans under Manlius Vulso. The Romans, however, permitted them to be governed by their own princes up to about 25 B.C., when they were made a part of the Roman Province of Galatia.

Thus in the time of St. Paul the Roman Province of Galatia included Galatia Proper, a part of Phrygia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Pontus and Paphlagonia. While Ancyra was the official capital of the Province, Antioch was a secondary and military centre, having a more important and strategic location. The cities which St. Paul visited on his first missionary journey—Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe—were all in the southern part of the Roman Province of Galatia.

The inhabitants of North Galatia or Galatia Proper were a mixed race, composed of the Celtic invaders of the third century B.C. and a large population of Phrygians, interspersed with Greeks and perhaps a few Jews, who had possessed the country before the invasion by the Celts. The people of South Galatia were Greco-Phrygians who had coalesced with large colonies of Romans and Jews.

II. The Galatians of the Epistle. From what has just been said the question is naturally asked,—to whom did St. Paul address his letter, to the people of North or to those of South Galatia? In reply we can only say that the question is so difficult, and the arguments for the two theories advanced are so weighty, that a solution of the problem, with our present available knowledge, must be regarded as impossible. Up to the early part of the nineteenth century it was very generally believed that the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Christians of Galatia Proper; but since that time very able authorities have been convinced that it was written to the converts of South Galatia, whom St. Paul and Barnabas evangelized on their first missionary journey. Among the patrons of this latter, or South
Galatian Theory, are Comely, Le Camus, Lemonnyer, Zahn, Ramsay, Sanday, O. Holtzmann and many other noted authorities. The other, or North Galatian Theory, is the older and traditional view, which was held by all the Fathers and by scholars generally down to the last century. Prof. Steinmann and Fr. Lagrange have adopted this opinion, and among non-Catholics it has been embraced by such illustrious scholars as Lightfoot, Weiss, Lipsius, H. J. Holtzmann, Julicher and many more. Although in our Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles we preferred the South Galatian Theory, we have been induced by further investigation to subjoin here the leading arguments for each theory and leave the student to judge for himself.

Arguments for the South Galatian Theory:

(a) St. Luke, in the book of Acts, gives us a full account of the founding of the Churches in South Galatia, but has not a word to say about any Churches in North Galatia, unless this be implied in the single sentence of Acts 16:6. His silence on this latter point is hard to explain, if the all-important Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Christians of Galatia Proper.

(b) Our Epistle is dealing with one of the most momentous questions in the early Church, namely, the relations of the converted Gentiles to the Mosaic observances; and, in the South Galatian Theory, it is addressed to Churches of whose existence and importance we have ample knowledge: whereas in the other Theory we have the same great questions discussed in writing to Churches about which, aside from this Epistle, we know nothing, and whose very existence is seriously questioned.

(c) While the author of Acts calls places by their popular names, St. Paul is accustomed to designate them by their official Roman titles, as, for example, Asia, Macedonia, Achaia, and the like. Since, therefore, Roman Galatia had, for seventy-five years prior to the Apostle’s missionary labors, included the cities of Lycaonia and Pisidia, which he evangelized on his first journey, it would be only in keeping with his custom to call the Churches of these cities Galatian: it would be quite singular if he meant by this term Churches of that northern country which had formerly been independent of Rome.

(d) The Epistle (Gal 2:1, 9, 13) makes several references to Barnabas as if he were well known to its readers. Now we know from Acts 13-14 that Barnabas took an active part with St. Paul in founding the Churches of South Galatia. If St. Paul established any Churches in North Galatia at all, it was when accompanied by Silas on his second missionary journey; but Silas is not mentioned in the Epistle.

(e) In Acts 18:23 it is said that St. Paul, after spending some time in Antioch, “went through the country of Galatia and Phrygia, in order, confirming all the disciples.” If this refers to North Galatia only, the Apostle failed to visit and confirm the very important disciples of South Galatia, or else St. Luke has passed over in silence such an impressive event—suppositions that are difficult to entertain.

(f) In North Galatia the Jews were very few, if there were any at all; but we know from Acts 13:43, 14:1, and from non-Biblical writings and inscriptions that there was a considerable number of Jews in South Galatia. Furthermore, the Judaizers would more easily find their way to South than to the remoter North Galatia. The Epistle shows plainly that there were not a few Jews in the community addressed (Gal 3:27-29), and that many of them were well acquainted with Jewish modes of exposition (Gal 4:22-31).

(g) In Acts 14:10 we read that the Lycaonians said of Paul and Barnabas: “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” This is quite in harmony with Gal. 4:14: “You . . . received me as an angel of God.”

(h) In Acts 20:4, when St. Paul was setting out for Jerusalem with the collection for the faithful in the Holy City, we find with him various representatives of the different Churches that had contributed to the collection; Timothy and Gaius of Derbe are mentioned as representing South Galatia. Where are the deputies of the North Galatian Churches, if such Churches existed?

Arguments for the North Galatian Theory:

(a) If St. Luke in the book of Acts is silent about the founding of Churches in North Galatia, that proves nothing, in view of his complete silence regarding so many other notable events and experiences in St. Paul’s life. The book of Acts is also silent about the Apostle’s visit to Arabia, mentioned in this Epistle (Gal 1:17); it omits all record of the mission work in Syria and Cilicia (Gal. 1:21) ; it says nothing about the troubles in the Corinthian Churches which drew from the Apostle two letters to the Corinthians; it gives no account of the labors in Illyricum and Dalmatia (Rom. 15:19; 2 Tim. 4:10), nor of the establishment of the Church at Colossae to which the Apostle addressed an Epistle.

(b) It is admitted that St. Luke, in Acts, uses the popular names for Galatia and other places; but it is by no means certain that St. Paul did not do the same. For example, Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10) was not an official name for a province till a.d. 70; Arabia is doubtless only a geographical term in Gal. 4:25; Spain and Judea are doubtful.

(c) St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Galatians, speaks as if he were nearly, if not entirely, alone in the founding of their Churches (Gal 1:8, 9; 4:11-20). This can hardly be explained if he was writing to the South Galatians, among whom Barnabas had labored so faithfully and equally with the Apostle. If Barnabas is mentioned in this Epistle (Gal 2:1, 9, 13), this proves nothing in favor of the South Galatian Theory, for he is also mentioned in the Epistles to the Corinthians and Colossians (1 Cor. 9:6; Col. 4:10), and we know that he had nothing to do with the founding of those Churches, and was known to them only by reputation.

(d) In Gal. 4:13 St. Paul seems to say that his preaching the Gospel to the Galatians was occasioned by some infirmity or illness of body. This physical disability caused the Apostle to stay some time among them, and he made use of the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. In spite of his illness, which apparently affected his eyes (4:14-15), the Galatians received him “as an angel of God,” and would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him, had that been possible. All this seems essentially different from the account given in Acts 13-14 of the founding of the Churches of Southern Galatia.

(e) It is not at all certain that Timothy and Gaius, in bringing their contributions to St. Paul for the poor in Jerusalem, were representatives of South Galatia. Timothy, and perhaps also Gaius, had been with the Apostle for some time, and probably had come from Macedonia as delegates from some other Church, like that of Corinth or Philippi. Moreover, it would seem highly improbable that a collection, either from North or South Galatia, would have been sent so far around when it could have been sent much more easily and safely by direct route to Jerusalem. Again, if no delegate is mentioned as representing the North Galatian Churches, we are not to wonder, because the list given by St. Paul does not represent all his Churches. There is no one spoken of as coming from Corinth, Philippi, or Achaia.

(f) St. Luke in Acts 16:6 and Acts 18:23 is speaking of St. Paul’s visits to the country of North Galatia. In the first passage, St. Paul with Silas, on his second missionary journey, had passed through the South Galatian country visited on the first journey, and was intending to enter Asia; but, having been prevented by the Holy Ghost, they turned northward and went through την φρυγιαν και την γαλατικην χωραν (= ten Phrygian kai Galatiken choran = the Phrygian and the Galatian territory). This was the occasion of the founding of the Churches in North Galatia. On his third missionary journey the Apostle “went through in order την γαλατικην χωραν και φρυγιαν (“the Galatian territory and the Phrygian”) confirming all the disciples” (Acts 18:23). In both of these passages φρυγια (Phrygia) is doubtless a substantive, and so also is την γαλατικη (Galatia), since both are defining a common term, χωρα (territory, country, region). Moreover, την γαλατικην χωραν (the Galatian territory) is evidently a country lying eastward of γαλατικη (Galatia).

(g) As said above, the North Galatian Theory was held by all the Fathers, and by exegetes and scholars generally, down to the nineteenth century.

The arguments respectively outlined in favor of the two opposing theories are sufficient, we think, to give the student a clear idea of the controversy, and to show how insoluble, with our present knowledge, the question really is. Great authorities are aligned against each other; but it is consoling to know that the vital problems discussed in the Epistle are quite above the dispute regarding the people addressed.

III. Composition of the Galatian Church. Whether the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the inhabitants of North or to those of South Galatia, the question is properly asked whether its readers were Gentiles or Jews, or both; and, if both, in what proportion were each. That Gentiles were addressed is evident from Gal 5:2, 3; 6:12, 13; 4:8; 3:28-29, where St. Paul is warning the Galatians against circumcision, and reminding them of their former worship of idols, but of their present equality with the Jews and all others before God. It is not circumcision, but faith in Christ that justifies (Gal 5:2); if they be Christ’s, they belong to the true posterity of Abraham and are heirs of the
promise made to Abraham (iii. 29): this is the whole argument of the Epistle, and it shows that the majority of its readers must have been Gentile Christians. However, there were also Jews and proselytes among those addressed, as appears from Gal 2:15; 3:13, 23, 25, 28; 4:3. This is further manifest from the fact that the doctrinal argument of the Epistle is based on the authority of Scripture, and from the consequent familiarity with the Old Testament which the Apostle supposes in his readers. With the exception of the Epistle to the Romans, this letter has a greater proportion of Old Testament references than any other of St. Paul’s Epistles. While, therefore, the majority of the readers of this letter were of pagan origin, there were also a number of Jews among those addressed.

IV. The Occasion and Purpose of the Epistle. The Epistle to the Galatians was occasioned by the advent among them of Judaizers who were teaching, contrary to the doctrines taught by St. Paul, that for salvation it was necessary to be circumcised and to conform to the Mosaic observances (Gal. 3:1-4:31). St. Paul had founded the Galatian Churches himself (Gal 1:8-9), and the faithful there had received him “as an angel of God, even as Jesus Christ,” in spite of the disgusting malady from which he was suffering at the time (Gal 4:13-14); they were willing to pluck out their eyes for him (Gal 4:15). And his ministry among them had borne remarkable fruit: they had received the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:2); miracles had been worked (Gal 3:5); God had sent the Spirit of His Son into their hearts (Gal 4:6); and all had gone well with them (Gal 5:7). But after the Apostle’s second visit to these converts he learned, perhaps by letter or by special delegates sent to him, that the Judaizers were attempting much harm to them and had in part succeeded. Those false teachers had come down from Jerusalem, or Antioch, perhaps, and, pretending to have special sanction from the authorities of the Church in the Holy City, they essayed to subvert the teaching of St. Paul and to introduce
another “gospel” (Gal 1:9). Their method was to enforce their doctrine, first by undermining the authority of the Apostle. They told the Galatians that the authority and commission of the twelve was unquestionable, that they had been chosen by Christ, had lived with Christ, had been taught by Him, had received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost—all of which were facts universally known and admitted. But as to Paul, it was doubted whether he was an Apostle at all. If he was, did not his commission come from men (Gal. 1:1, 12)? Hands had been laid on him at Antioch and he had been sent out to preach (Acts 13:3), but his authorization seemed to be only human and to rest on his own testimony (Gal 2:7-9). Hence it was not strange if his teaching differed widely in many respects from that of Christ and the other Apostles.

Was not the preaching of this Paul subjected to examination at the Council of Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10)? Did not St. Peter openly disagree with him at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-15)? His practice was to please all men for the sake of success; he sought the favor of men, and so taught circumcision or uncircumcision as circumstances demanded (Gal. 1:10; 5:11). He disregarded the sacredness of the Mosaic Law and circumcision, although these were an external sign of God’s covenant with man and are necessary, if we wish to enjoy participation in the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom (Gal. 4:10; 5:2; 6:12). To deny this was to put in doubt the truth of the divine promises, to open the way
to unbridled vice, and consequently to imperil the whole work of Christianity.

The arguments of these Judaizers were very specious, being grounded, as it seemed, on the Old Testament and on the practices of Christ and the older Apostles. Was the gospel of Paul really the true one? was it complete? Even if salvation depended on faith in Christ, were not circumcision and the Mosaic observances necessary conditions? Had the Law an eternal, or only a transitory value, being replaced by the New Covenant of which Christ was the author and initiator? These were the questions that perplexed the Galatians and shook their faith in Paul (Gal 1:6). His preaching had fascinated them, but now their advance had been checked (Gal 5:7); they were on the point of accepting another gospel (Gal 1:6), and there was danger that they who had begun with the works of the spirit, would terminate with those of the flesh (Gal 3:3). Already they were observing “days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal 4:10); and their desire seemed to be to place themselves entirely “under the law” (Gal 4:21).

Such were the difficulties that confronted St. Paul in Galatia, and the problems which called for solution. The situation was serious, but not entirely desperate (Gal 5:10). It does not seem that the faithful had yet yielded to circumcision (Gal 5:2), nor that their entire number had been troubled. Nevertheless, such was the gravity of their condition that St. Paul was stirred with deepest anxiety and would have given much to be with them (Gal 4:20). In the absence of such a possibility he took up his pen and wrote to them this rigorous defense of his person and his doctrine, establishing: (a) the divine origin of his teaching and authority; (b) that justification is not through the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ crucified and risen again; (c) that consequently the Law had only a transitory office, the termination of which, however, by no means lets down the barriers to sin and vice, since the Christian is guided henceforth by the law of charity.

V. Time and Place of Writing. Just when and where this letter was written is not entirely certain; opinions have been greatly divided from the early centuries. Marcion, according to St. Epiphanius (Haer. xlii. 9), thought Galatians was the first of St. Paul’s Epistles. St. Chrysostom (In Rom. horn. I) believed it to have been written before Romans toward the end of the third missionary journey. Theodoret (Com in Ep. Pauli Praef.), St. Jerome (In Gal.. iv. 20; vi. 11), and others are of the opinion that it was composed at Rome during St. Paul’s first captivity there. The MSS. B K L P with some cursives, the two Syriac and the Coptic versions have the subscription “from Rome”. The belief that the Epistle was written from Rome has also been held by some recent scholars, like Koehler and Halmer, on account of the passages Gal 4:20 and Gal 6:17, where there seems to be reference to some restraint imposed upon the Apostle; and also on account of the allusion to Roman law terms in Gal 4:2 and Gal 3:20. It is next to certain, however, that, had St. Paul been a captive at Rome or elsewhere during the writing of this letter, he would have stated it very clearly and definitely, as Zahn rightly remarks (Introd. to The New Test., I. p. 140). Zahn, like Marcion, puts Galatians first of all St. Paul’s Epistles in point of time. Le Camus, Weber and The Westminster Version of Holy Scripture, among Catholics, also take this view. Cornely, Hausrath and Pfleiderer place its composition shortly after the Council of Jerusalem. Meyer, Lipsius and Holtzmann say it was written at Ephesus during the third missionary journey. Bleek and Lightfoot believe it was composed at Corinth after the three years’ sojourn at Ephesus, while Lagrange thinks it was written in the latter city about the year 54. Ramsay and Dr. Weber (Cath.) put its composition at Antioch before the Council of Jerusalem. This opinion is advanced to obviate certain apparent difficulties arising from Gal. 2 and Acts 15. The two visits to Galatia are the visit to Derbe and back, in this opinion.

Naturally the time and place of writing assigned to this Epistle depend mainly upon the theory which one adopts regarding its readers. Many understand from Gal. 2:1-10 that the letter was written after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) ; and from Gal. 1:8-9; 4:13 it appears quite certain that it came after a second visit to the Galatian Churches. Moreover, “so soon” (ταχέως = tacheos) of Gal 1:6 is cited by some authorities to show that the composition of the Epistle was very soon after the Apostle’s second visit to the Galatians. When, therefore, was this second visit, so soon
after which the Galatians became an object of anxiety to the Apostle? For those who hold the South Galatian Theory it was the visit spoken of in Acts 16:6, during St. Paul’s second missionary journey, the first visit being recounted in Acts 13-14; and the place of writing was perhaps Troas, or more probably Corinth around 53 a.d. (Cornely, Zahn).

For those critics who hold the North Galatian Theory the first visit to the Galatians is that recorded in Acts 16:6; and the second, that mentioned in Acts 18: 23, during the third missionary journey. Because of the close resemblances of ideas and often of language between the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians and Galatians, the patrons of this latter theory believe that Galatians was written about the same time as those other letters, and therefore at Ephesus between 54 and 57 a.d., or at Corinth in 57-58.

To account for the undeniable similarity between Galatians, Corinthians and Romans—a similarity in ideas, and often also in expressions—it seems altogether natural to believe that they were composed while the Apostle was in more or less of the same frame of mind, although this period could easily, and most likely did, extend over several years. For resemblances between Galatians and Corinthians compare Gal. 1:6 with 2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 6:15 with 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:13 with 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 6:7 with 2 Cor. 9:6. For resemblances between Galatians and Romans compare Gal. 2:16 with Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:6 with Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:19 with Rom. 6; Gal. 5:17 with Rom. 7:15-23; Gal. 4:5-7 with Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 5:14 with Rom. 13:9, etc., etc. There are at least twenty parallel passages between Galatians and
Romans. Of course the situation in the Corinthian Church was much the same as that in the Galatian, as we learn especially from Second Corinthians; there were the same attacks on the Apostle’s authority, and the same adversaries, the Judaizers. This would explain much of the likeness in thought and words between Galatians and Corinthians. But it cannot be said that the situations in Rome and Galatia were the same, and hence it would seem
that the resemblance between the Epistles to these two Churches must be accounted for chiefly by the nearness of the years in which they were written, although this period very probably extended over four or five years.

The difference between Romans and Galatians have inclined some critics to believe that there was a development in the Apostle’s doctrine, that he did not have a complete and definite idea of his Gospel until after his controversy with the Judaizers. In Galatians, they say, we have an elementary exposition of his theology, but in Romans a full and profound development of his whole system of doctrine. It is doubtless true that Romans is an elaboration of the teachings of Galatians, but this by no means argues that St. Paul only gradually became aware of the full import of his Gospel. The Epistle to the Galatians was a letter of circumstances, and the Apostle adapted his teaching to the
situation before him, replying mainly to the attacks of his enemies. In the Epistle to the Romans he unfolded the main features of his whole Gospel, so that the faithful in the Eternal City might know what he had been teaching to other Gentiles, might recognize the identity of his Gospel with that which they had received already, and might be prepared to welcome his visit. Writing to the Romans St. Paul was in a state of mind far more tranquil than when he wrote to the Galatians. This appears from the entire tone of the two letters. In the latter Epistle the polemic is ardent and personal, in the former the argument, while forceful and overpowering in its logic, is calm and peaceful; the Epistle to the Galatians is a defense of doctrines that are questioned and in danger, the Epistle to the Romans is a quiet but powerful exposition of truths already known and accepted without hesitation; to the Galatians the Apostle’s thesis is mainly negative, that justification is not from the Law and its works, while to the Romans it is positive, namely, that salvation is through faith in Christ independent of the Law.

VI. Authenticity and Canonicity. The authenticity of the Epistle to the Galatians is admitted by all antiquity. In modern times doubt was first cast upon it by an Englishman named Evanson (1792), and in the last century a number of critics, especially of the German rationalistic schools, have questioned its genuineness. But the objections of recent Rationalists are of little weight when compared with the unbroken tradition of the Church from the earliest times.

Although St. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. iii. 7, 2) is the first to quote the Epistle by name and attribute it to St. Paul, it is certain that the letter was well known and made use of by ecclesiastical writers before Irenaeus. Polycarp and Clement of Rome use passages in their writings that are found only in Galatians, or seem undoubtedly to allude to the Epistle (Compare Polycarp, Ad Philippi. vi with Gal. 6:7; ix. 2 with Gal. 2:2; iii. 2 with Gal. 4:26. Compare Clem, of Rome Ep. 1 Cor.. ii. 1 with Gal. 3:16; 1 Cor. xlix. 6 with Gal. 1:4). St. Justin Martyr (Dial, with Trypho XCV) cites the same passages of Deut. 27:26, 21:23 which St. Paul has used in Gal. 3:10, 13; and in his First Apology (c. LIII) he uses Isa. 54:1 as St. Paul does in Gal. 4:27. The Epistle to the Galatians is found in the Muratorian Canon, and in the Old Latin and Syriac versions. That it was known in the African Church is clear from Tertullian (De Praescrip. vi. 23; Adv. Mar. v. 2, 4), and from Clement of Alex. (Strom, iii. 15). Even the heretics of the second century, like Marcion and Valentine, did not think of questioning the authorship of this Epistle (Cf. Tertull. Adv. Marc. v. 2; Iren. Adv. Haer. i. 3, 5).

Since, therefore, the Epistle to the Galatians was known and recognized by the Apostolic Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers, and since it is found in the Muratorian and other Canons and in the old versions of the Bible, as well as in the best and oldest MSS. we have, there is no reason for doubting in the least its authenticity and canonicity.

These external arguments are enforced by the contents of the Epistle. As said above, there is a very marked similarity between the doctrine and style of this letter and the doctrine and style of Romans and Corinthians, which are universally regarded as having St. Paul as their author. Moreover, the teachings which this Epistle embodies and the circumstances amid which it must have been written seem to point unmistakably to the years that closely followed the discussions at Antioch about the reception of the pagans into the community of Christians, the Council of Jerusalem, where that discussion was settled, and the years that just preceded, or followed, the composition of Second Corinthians. At Antioch the question was raised and bitterly disputed whether the Gentile converts should not first be circumcised and subjected to the Mosaic observances before being admitted on an equal footing with the Jewish Christians (Acts 15:1-2). This discussion Paul and Barnabas carried to Jerusalem where it was definitely decided in favor of the Gentiles by a Council of the Church (Acts 15:2-29). The decision of the Council was promulgated at Antioch, and all seemed well for a time; but it was not very long, as we know from the Epistles to the Corinthians, before certain Judaizers of Pharisaical tendencies were moved with hatred against St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles and the champion of the Gentiles’ cause. They began to follow up his work and belittle his Apostolic authority, his character, his teachings, etc., in order that they might again insist on their own views and doctrines. It was a situation like this in Galatia that called forth the present Epistle, and to which the Epistle perfectly corresponds. It would be absurd to suppose a writer subsequent to St. Paul’s time, or other than St. Paul himself,
to be discussing in a letter questions that were entirely settled in the Apostle’s life-time, and in which he alone could be the person involved. The whole contents, therefore, of the Epistle to the Galatians correspond to the circumstances and conditions of history and doctrine which are only to be found in St. Paul’s time and in connection with the Apostle himself.

VII. The Importance of the Epistle; its Style. The Epistle to the Galatians is of great importance, as well for the doctrines which it supposes to be thoroughly understood and admitted in the early Church, as for its positive teachings. It implies that the Galatians were entirely familiar with the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation and Divinity of Christ, the Redemption, Grace, Baptism and the like. The Apostle’s teaching on these fundamental truths seems never to have been questioned; neither do his readers ever appear to require an explanation of them. This shows that these truths were not only well understood and accepted, but also that St. Paul’s teaching regarding them was in perfect conformity with the common teaching of the other Apostles. The positive value of the letter lies in its direct teaching with respect to the fundamental truth of justification through faith in Christ, the abrogation of the Mosaic observances, the consequent liberty of the Gospel and in the biographical data which it furnishes concerning the Apostle, his preparation for the Apostolate, the source of his knowledge of Christianity, his authority, the conformity of his questioned doctrines with those of the other Apostles, and the like.

Unlike the Epistle to the Romans, which is calmly expository in the main, this letter is chiefly apologetical in form and vehement throughout. The style is distinctly Pauline. Being deeply moved by the situation he is combating and filled with righteous indignation the Apostle rushes on, like a mighty torrent, caring not for unfinished phrases, jolting omissions or grammatical mistakes, so long as he is able to give undoubted and unmistakable expression to his feelings. In numerous passages the resemblance to his other Epistles is so marked as to compel a recognition of the identity of the author; and yet the sudden changes and transitions of thought and expression, the unexpected ruptures and unevenness of language, the bursts of anger towards his enemies, often swiftly alternating with tenderest words of sympathy for those that were well disposed,—all features so characteristic of St. Paul, make it impossible that anyone could have forged this letter by imitating any other of the Apostle’s writings.

VIII. Division and Analysis. There are three general divisions in the Epistle to the Galatians: the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion. The Body of the letter likewise falls into three parts, consisting of two chapters each.

In the Introduction or Prologue (Gal 1:1-10) the Apostle, in his own name and on behalf of those who are with him, salutes the Galatians, announcing his divine vocation, and wishing them peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 1:1-5). Next he expresses his great surprise that the Galatians are so soon seduced (Gal 1:6). Forthwith he utters his denunciation against those who have troubled and upset them (Gal 1:7-9). Finally, the Apostle declares that he speaks as he does because he wishes to please God rather than men (Gal 1:10).

The First Part of the Epistle (Gal 1:11-2:21) is apologetic, containing the Apostle’s defense of himself. To begin with, he gives his readers to understand that his Apostolate is not of human origin, declaring that he has not received his revelation from man but from Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12). And this he proves, first from the fact that up to the day when God revealed His Son to him, he was a zealous Pharisee and a persecutor of the Christians (Gal 1:13-16); whereas, straightway upon receiving his divine call, without going up to Jerusalem or taking counsel with anyone, he retired into Arabia, returning later to Damascus (Gal 1:17). A second proof to the same effect is clear from this, that not till after three years did he see any of the other Apostles, and then only Peter and James for a brief visit in the Holy City (Gal 1:18-20), after which he went to Syria and Cicilia, being unknown to the faithful of Judea who, nevertheless, having heard of his conversion, glorified God on his account (Gal 1:21-24).

After proving the divine origin of his Gospel the Apostle goes on (Gal 2:1-21) to show that his teaching is in perfect harmony with that of the other Apostles. This also is evident from two facts, (a) After fourteen years, at the Council of Jerusalem, he explained his whole Gospel to the Apostles and the entire Church, and, in spite of certain false brethren who raised some objections to him, the Apostles that were in highest esteem, seeing that to Paul had been entrusted the Gospel to the uncircumcised, gave him the right hand of fellowship, asking only that he be mindful of his poor brethren in the faith and succor their needs (Gal 2:1-10. (b) Later on, at Antioch, when Peter, fearing to offend the Jews, failed to regulate his conduct according to the common teaching of the Church, St. Paul rebuked him for his inconsistency, and the Prince of the Apostles recognized the rightfulness and truth of the position taken by his great confrere (Gal 2:11-21).

The Second, or Dogmatic Part of the Epistle (Gal 3:1-5:12) discusses the great doctrine of justification, which, as the Apostle shows, is not from the Law, but from faith in Jesus Christ.

His teaching on this subject he proves (a) by an appeal to the experience of the Galatians themselves. Was it not through faith, rather than by the works of the Law, that they had received the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:1-5) ? (b) He invokes the authority of Scripture. Do not the Scriptures prove that justification comes by faith? It was thus that Abraham was justified, and all those who believe as he did are his children and are blessed with their faithful father (Gal 3:6-9). As for the Law, it brought not benediction, but a curse upon all those who endeavored to fulfil its works; whereas the Scriptures attest that “the just man liveth by faith,” and hence all those who will have part in the promised blessings must seek them through faith in Christ Jesus and not through the Law (Gal 3:10-14).

The promise made to Abraham was not annulled by the promulgation of the Law over four hundred years later (Gal 3:15-18). The Law was only a simple guide which was supposed to lead the Jews to Christ (Gal 3:19-24), but which thereupon was to cease (Gal 3:25-29). As long as the Jews were under the Law, they were as children under a tutor, differing nothing from servants; but when Christ came, they were delivered from the slavery of their state and made the adopted sons of God, and, as such, heirs also through God (Gal 4:1-7).

Reminding the Galatians of their privileged condition the Apostle now exhorts them to prize their freedom, and not to be deceived by false teachers into forfeiting all their blessings (Gal 4:8-20). Then by an allegory, based on the two sons of Abraham, he illustrates, on the one hand, the inutility of the Law, and on the other, the glorious state of the children of faith (Gal 4:21-30). Certain practical conditions for the Galatians are then deduced from the principles laid down (Gal 4:31-v. 12). (a) The Apostle warns his readers that if they submit to circumcision and put themselves again under the Law, they thereby divest themselves of Christ and His grace and are bound to the observance of the
whole Law (Gal 5:1-5). In Christ nothing avails except faith that works by charity (Gal 5:6). (b) A severe judgment is reserved for those seducers who have upset and troubled the otherwise happy Galatians (Gal 5:7-12).

The Third or Moral Part of the Epistle (Gal 5:13-6:10) contains practical recommendations and counsels for the Christian life. In Christianity the Galatians will find complete satisfaction for all their generous religious instincts which are now inclining them towards the observance of the Law. (a) Let those who have been freed from the tyranny of the Law not abuse their liberty, but let them show charity, one towards another (Gal 5:13-15). They should live according to the spirit, avoiding the lusts and works of the flesh (Gal 5:16-25). (b) Let vainglory and pride be
shunned (Gal 5:26-6:6), and let charity be practiced toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith (Gal 6:7-10).

The Conclusion (Gal 6:11-18) of this letter is a recapitulation and a summing up of the polemical and doctrinal parts before discussed (Gal 6:11-15), followed by a declaration of peace to the children of faith, a prayer, and a blessing (Gal 6:16-18).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016

CHRISTIANITY IS A NEW DISPOSITION REPLACING THE OLD ONE
A Summary of Galatians 4:21-30.

The greatest argument for the observance of the Law was, from the Jewish standpoint, that the Scripture itself seemed to declare it to be a perpetual ordinance. St. Paul has already refuted this error in a general way by showing that the Law was only a guide, a pedagogue, with a temporary mission. But now, in order to turn against the Judaizers their own argument, he draws from Scripture a proof that the Law was not intended in the designs of God to be an enduring provision. A first, imperfect disposition engendering servitude, it was to be followed by another which would be perfect, making us children of the promise and sons of God.

Gal 4:22. For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, and the other by a freewoman.

Two sons, namely, Ismael by the bondwoman Agar, and Isaac by the freewoman Sara.

Bondwoman (παιδισκης = paidiske) means “maid servant,” “slave,” in the New Testament. Cf. Gen. 16:15; 21:2.

Gal 4:23. But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh: but he of the freewoman was by promise.

But he, i.e., Ismael, was born according, etc., i.e., according to the ordinary laws of nature: but he, i.e., Isaac, was by promise, i.e., was born in virtue of the promise. Isaac’s birth was miraculous inasmuch as, owing to the advanced age of Abraham and the sterility of Sara, it would have been physically impossible without a divine intervention.

There are then two differences between the two sons of Abraham: Ismael was of a slave and according to the flesh; Isaac was of a freewoman and in virtue of the promise. Cf. Gen. 17:16, 19; 18:10.

Gal 4:24. Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from mount Sina, engendering unto bondage; which is Agar:

Which things are said, etc., i.e., those circumstances concerning the two sons of Abraham have, besides their historical and literal sense, a spiritual meaning, which the Apostle is now going to point out.

For these, i.e., these two women, Agar and Sara.

Are, i.e., represent two testaments, i.e., two covenants. The first was from Mt. Sinai, where it was contracted between God and Israel.

Engendering, i.e., bring forth unto bondage, i.e., for obedience to the Law.

Which is Agar, i.e., Agar was the type of the first covenant, because like it she brought forth unto bondage.

Gal 4:26. But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free: which is our mother.

In contrast to “the one” (covenant) of verse 24 we should expect St. Paul here to speak of the other covenant; but instead he takes up the contrast to the present Jerusalem, and speaks of the Jerusalem above. By above he does not mean only the Church Triumphant, for he says she is our mother, i.e., the mother of us Christians living yet on earth. And this Jerusalem is free, i.e., not subject to the Law; she is the Kingdom of God, governed by God’s Holy Spirit.

Gal 4:27. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.

St. Paul now cites the LXX of Isaias (liv. 1) to prove that the fecundity of the Jerusalem which is above, i.e., of the Messianic Kingdom, was foretold by the Prophet and miraculously ordained by God. Literally the Prophet’s words refer to the earthly Jerusalem which, although bereft of her inhabitants during the Babylonian captivity, would one day be more populous than ever. But spiritually the reference is to the heavenly Jerusalem, the Messianic Kingdom, which, born at the time of the
promise made to Abraham (Cornely), or existing only in the designs of God (Lagrange), remained sterile, until the death of Christ, when her children became far more numerous than were the children of the earthly city.

Agar was a fitting type of the old Jerusalem, of the Synagogue; as Sara was of the Messianic Kingdom, the Church of Christ. And this the Prophet seems to have had in mind, for a few chapters ahead (Isa 51:1 ff.) he had invited the Jews to imitate the faith of Abraham and Sara, whose children they were. St. Paul makes the application more definite.

The words barren, break forth, desolate refer literally to Jerusalem during the captivity (or to Sara, in the Apostle’s application); but spiritually to the reign of Christ and His Church. She that hath a husband in the Prophet’s literal meaning referred to Jerusalem before the captivity (as applied by St. Paul, to Agar); spiritually the reference is to the Old Covenant, the Synagogue, which had the Law as a husband.

PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS ARE NOW DEDUCED FROM THE PRINCIPLES
LAID DOWN
 A Summary of Galatians 4:31-5:12.

In commencing the new section with Gal 4:31 we are following the division made by Bousset, Lagrange and Zahn. The recurrence of the word freedom joins it with what precedes, as a result with its sources. Many critics see in Gal 4:31 the last word of the allegory illustrating the two alliances, rather than the beginning of a practical conclusion. But the allegory was really concluded in Gal 4:28, and is presupposed in Gal 4:29-30. It seems better then to regard 31 as the point of transition between what has preceded and the section that now follows (Lagrange).

In the first place the Galatians must make their choice, either of the whole Law without Christ, or of the faith of Christ accompanied by charity without the Law. If they choose the Law, they must renounce Christ; if they wish to be Christians, then the Law must be abandoned (Gal 4:31-5:6). Having pointed out the dangers to which they are exposed, St. Paul next warns the Galatians to beware of false leaders who are courting a just and severe chastisement (Gal 5:7-12).

Gal 4:31. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.

So then (810). Better, “Hence,” or “consequently.” The general principle of the whole Epistle is here resumed under the color of the allegory, and the practical result of our being Christians is restated, namely, that we are free by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free, i.e., we are sons of the free woman and enjoy a freedom which we owe to Christ, the author of our liberty. This is the reading of the Vulgate, and the easiest for this clause. In the best MSS., however, and according to the Greek Fathers, this final clause of the present verse belongs to the first verse of the following chapter, and the meaning is probably: “Christ has liberated us for freedom, in order that we may be and may remain free”; or, if we join “stand” to “freedom,” we shall have: “Stand firm to the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.”

Gal 5:1. Stand fast, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.

Stand fast, i.e., in the liberty of the Gospel, as opposed to the slavery of your former condition in paganism and under the Law.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summary of chapter 4, followed by his comments on today’s reading. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 4

The Apostle commences this chapter by pointing out the preposterous conduct of the Galatians in submitting to the Jewish ceremonies. Their conduct in this respect is, he says, precisely similar to that of an heir, who, after attaining his majority, renounces his privileges—viz., the free and uncontrolled administration of his property, and submits anew to the control of the pedagogue, and the slavish drudgery of magisterial discipline. In order the more clearly to show this, he compares the Jewish people under the Old Law, which was composed of sensible, material signs and carnal ceremonies, to an heir in the state of nonage or of infant minority, deprived of all administration of his property, and in this respect nowise better than a servant, perfectly under the control of teachers and guardians (Gal 4:1–4). The Galatians reached their majority when, the term fixed upon by God for sending his Son having expired, he introduced them at once into the glorious adoption of full-grown sons of God, and into the full enjoyment of his heavenly inheritance, by anticipation here on earth (Gal 4:4–7). He next refers to their former state of idolatry, and insinuates, that, although their ignorance might then be pleaded in extenuation of their guilt, now, after having been introduced into the clear knowledge of the true God, and after having been so highly favoured by him, they had no such extenuation for recurring to the elements of Jewish infancy, one of which he instances in their observance of the Jewish festival days (Gal 4:8–10). He expresses his fears regarding them (Gal 4:11), and exhorts them to follow his own example in neglecting Jewish ceremonies (Gal 4:12). He endeavours to soften the ascerbity of his rebuke, by reminding them that they gave him no personal grounds for embittered feelings, as they treated him with the greatest kindness and respect. He points out the authors of whatever feelings of enmity they might entertain against him—viz., the false teachers, and he gives expression to his ardent paternal affection for the Galatians, and the consideration with which he longs to address them (Gal 4:13–22). He undertakes to prove from the Old Testament, that by subjecting themselves to the Law of Moses, they would be excluded from the Church and its inheritance. He quotes the history of Genesis, in which is recorded the birth of Abraham’s two sons, one born of the bond-woman, the other of the free-woman (Gal 4:21–23). He points out the allegorical meaning of these historical facts, and shows that those two wives of Abraham represented the Old and New Testaments. The old, which took its rise from Sinai, was represented by Agar. And he shows how fit a place Sinai was to originate the old covenant of fear (Gal 4:24-25). He leaves it to be inferred that Sara represents the new covenant, and points out the wonderful fecundity of the Church represented by her (Gal 4:26-27). He applies the allegory, in the three following verses.

Gal 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman and the other by a free woman.

For, it informs you of this fact, that Abraham had two sons—Ismael, whom he begot of Agar, a bond-woman, and Isaac, whom he begot of Sara, a free-woman.

“For,” is a proof of the implied proposition, viz., that the Law transfers them to Christ. “It is written.”—(Genesis, 16, 21)

Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh: but he of the free woman was by promise.

But Ismael, the son of the bond-woman, was born according to the natural course of things—his mother being young and prolific—whereas, Isaac, the son of the free-woman, was born of her—when old and sterile—in virtue of God’s promise on the subject.—(Genesis, 17:17).

“But he of the free-woman, was by the promise.”—(Genesis, 17:17).

Gal 4:24 Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments. The one from Mount Sina, engendering unto bondage, which is Agar.

Now, these historical facts, besides their literal signification, convey a still more profound and allegorical meaning, which consists in this: These two marriages, or wives of Abraham, signify two covenants, the one taking its rise from Mount Sina, and bringing forth children into the servitude of the Mosaic law—of which the precepts are so numerous, and the spirit, that of fear; this covenant is represented by Agar.

Which things are said by allegory; literally, ἅτινα ὲστιν ἀλληγορούμενα (hatina estin allegoroumena), which things are allegorized, i.e., the things narrated in Genesis regarding the sons and marriages of Abraham, signifying at the same time other things altogether different from themselves. By an allegory, writers on rhetoric understand a lengthened or continued metaphor. Ecclesiastical writers generally understand it to denote a figure in things, by which one thing is employed to typify or signify another of quite a different nature. “For these,” αὗται γὰρ, i.e., the marriages, or, according to others, the two wives of Abraham. “Are,” i.e., signify “the two Testaments”—viz., the New and the Old. “The one indeed from Mount Sina.” The Old Testament took its rise from Mount Sina; because, there was promulgated the Law, the observance of which was among the primary conditions of the Old Covenant. “Which bringeth forth into bondage.” The Old Testament brought forth children into the bondage of the Mosaic Law, a law of servitude, both on account of the multitude of its precepts, which neither the Jews nor their fathers could bear, as also on account of the spirit of fear which it inspired. “Which is Agar;” and this covenant is represented by Agar.

Gal 4:26 But that Jerusalem which is above is free: which is our mother.

But the heavenly Jerusalem—viz., the Church, of which Sara, the free-woman was a type, is not, like he Synagogue, in servitude, but free. She is also fruitful in free children, among whom we are to be numbered; and hence, she is our mother.

The Apostle omits referring to the typical or allegorical signification of Sara, which he supposes to be clearly deducible from the anathesis between her and Agar. As Agar represented the Old Testament, so must Sara represent the other, viz., the New, which he supposes to bear the same near relation of signification to the heavenly Jerusalem, that the covenant established on Sina bears to the earthly. For, in heaven it took its rise; from heaven it descends; and from heaven its animating principle—viz., faith, hope, and charity (the soul of the Church), is derived. Of it, he merely says, that it is not, like the present Jerusalem, in servitude, but “free,” and also fruitful in free children—(the children always following the condition of the mother). In this respect also it differs from the other, which “is in bondage with her children.” In this respect also, it differs from the other, which “is in bondage with her children.”

“Which is our mother.” We all, both Jews and Gentiles, are among the free children, whom she has begotten to God.

Gal 4:27 For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not: break forth and cry thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.

This wonderful fecundity of the Church was foretold by the Prophet Isaias, when he called upon this sterile woman, the Church of God among the Gentiles, to burst forth into shouts of joy and exultation, because, although hitherto barren and husbandless, she had now more children than the Synagogue, which had a husband.

He proves this wonderful fecundity of the Church from the Prophet Isaias (54:1). This quotation from Isaias refers to the state of the Church before the coming of Christ. Before that period, the Church had but few children among the Gentiles; hence, termed “barren” by the Prophet. But, now, she begets more children than the Synagogue “that hath a husband”—that was espoused to the Mosaic Law, or to God himself, as a fearful master. This fecundity of the Church above the Synagogue is clear from the fact, that the children of the Synagogue were confined to the Jewish people alone, and her spiritual children fewer still; while the Church extends to all nations, and her spiritual children are beyond numbering.

OBJECTION.—How could the Church be called “barren,” &c., before the coming of Christ, since she had no existence then? Should it be said, that she had existence in the faithful Jews, who lived before Christ, might it not rather be said that these were children of the Synagogue, begotten of her husband, the law? And, moreover, in the alleged supposition, where could be found the opposition referred to by the Prophet and quoted by the Apostle?

RESPONSE.—In the first place, it may be answered, that the few just men, who lived under the Patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, constituted the Church of Christ; since it was only through the grace of the New Law they were enabled to fulfil all their duties. And, then, the opposition or antithesis instituted by the Apostle, shall be made to consist between these few just men—(so few, that their mother, the Church of Christ, by whose aids they fulfilled their duties, might be justly termed “barren”); and the whole bulk of the Jewish nation united to the Synagogue, by the external subjection to the law, which could not of itself justify them.

In the second place, the Apostle may be said to refer here to the Church of God among the Gentiles, which, compared with the Synagogue, had but few children, and hence, termed “barren.” And, then, the opposition is between the Church as made up of but a few followers among the Gentiles, and the external followers of the Synagogue. For, although the Jews were among the first, nay, the very first, openly to join the Church of Christ; still, the Church was chiefly composed of the Gentiles, compared with whom, the Jewish converts were, in point of numbers, almost a mere nothing. This Church of the Gentiles, now far and wide extended, and embracing within its pale, almost all the nations was confined, of old, to a small number—viz., the few just.

Gal 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bondwoman but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.

We should, therefore, bear in mind, brethren, that we are not the children of the bond-woman—the Synagogue—bound to the Law of Moses; but of the free-woman, viz., the Church of Christ; and hence, we are ourselves free, after the condition of our mother. But this liberty was procured for us by Christ, who, by his grace, freed us from the yoke of the Law, which he abrogated.

“Then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman.” It is not easy to see the connexion of the word, “then,” or, therefore, unless it be with the words of verse 26:—“But that Jerusalem which is above is our mother.” It is, however, generally understood by Commentators to have the force of exhortation, having reference to the following chapter, rather than of argumentative conclusion. The word “brethren,” which is commonly employed by the Apostle in cases of moral exhortation, renders this view the more probable. “By the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.” These words are made, in the ordinary Greek text, the commencement of chapter 5 verse 1. The Codex Vaticanus follows the Vulgate arrangement, and commences chapter 5 with the words, “stand fast,” &c.

Gal 5:1 Stand fast and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.

Persevere firmly in the Gospel liberty which Christ has secured for you (4:31), and suffer not yourselves to be again held under the yoke of servitude—viz., the yoke of the Mosaic law.

“Stand fast.” These words are, in the ordinary Greek and Syriac versions, joined with the words of the preceding verse, thus: stand fast (therefore) in the freedom with which Christ made us free. The meaning is the same as in our construction, which is that of St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and several old Greek editions. From the words, “stand fast,” some interpreters infer that the Galatians had not lost the faith. From verse 4, it appears, however, that some had, and the words, “stand fast,” are, probably, addressed to those who persevered. The words, “stand fast,” probably contain a military metaphor, in allusion to their persevering under the banner of Christ.

“And be not held again,” &c., i.e., be not tied down and held fast under another yoke of bondage. “Again” is used in reference to bondage in general; they were before under the bondage of idolatry. He now refers to bondage of a different kind viz., that of the Mosaic law.—(See 4:9).

 

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 3:22-29

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 13, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s summary of all of chapter 3, followed by his notes on verses 22-29. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verse he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

A Summary of Galatians Chapter 3.

In this chapter, the Apostle, after having conveyed in feeling terms, a mild, paternal rebuke, to the Galatians (Gal 3:1), proceeds to prove by several arguments, that justification comes from faith and not from the works of the law. His first argument is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. The abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost were displayed amongst them, and he asks them, was it from faith these gifts were derived? and he, then, points out their utter folly in having recourse to carnal precepts for the consummation of that sanctification which commenced with faith (Gal 3:2–5). His next argument is derived from the example of Abraham, justified by faith before he received the law, and his justification is the model of ours (Gal 3:6–9). Another argument is derived from the evils entailed by the law, which, far from being the source of a blessing, is the occasion of a curse (Gal 3:10). A further proof, which may be rather termed a fuller development of the preceding, is derived from the difference of the effects flowing from faith and the works of the law (Gal 3:11-12).

He shows how we are freed from the malediction entailed by the law (Gal 3:13-14). His next argument is founded on the nature of the testament which God made with Abraham, and in a strain of reasoning which he elucidates by human examples, he shows this testament to be unchangeable, and not voidable, which would be the result, if justification were to come from the law (Gal 3:15-16). From these arguments he concludes that we are justified by Christ, or rather by faith in him, and not by the law (Gal 3:17-18). He then answers certain objections to which his doctrine and reasoning might give rise, and shows the points in which the Old Law, and the promise made regarding Christ, differed, and the excellency of the latter above the former (Gal 3:19-20). Reverting to the opposition apparently existing between the law and the promise, he shows that there was no opposition between them. They would be really opposed, if the law conferred justice, as the false teachers taught (Gal 3:21). He shows that the law served the promise, by causing men, oppressed with the yoke of sin, to look to the proper source, viz., faith in Christ, for the fruits of the promise (Gal 3:22), and also that it prepared us for the promise, by restraining us from manifest transgressions (Gal 3:23). The law held the same relation to the promise, that the pedagogue does to the preceptor (Gal 3:24). But now its office ceases; hence, abrogated, as being useless (Gal 3:25). The Galatians arrived at once at full grown spiritual existence; and, did not, therefore, require the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue (Gal 3:26). He points out the magnitude of the blessings conferred on them in justification. 

Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by the faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe.

But, on the contrary, the law has served the promise, since the written law has shut up all men, even the Jews, in the prison of sin, in order that, by manifesting their iniquity, by reproving their vices, or even by serving for the increase of sin, it would cause them from a consciousness of their misery, to look to quite a different source for the fruits of the promise, viz., to faith in Jesus Christ, the blessed seed to whom the promises were made.

“But the Scripture.” By “the Scripture,” is generally understood the written Law, and Scripture of the Old Testament. It is here personified as the representative of God, by whom it was inspired. “Hath concluded all” παντα (panta), omnia, all mankind The neuter is employed to denote the more general extension and comprehensiveness of the assertion.

Gal 3:23 But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed.

But before the coming of Christ in whom we are bound to believe, and the full manifestation of his Gospel, we were kept in the service of God, and restrained from the commission of crime under the custody of the law, until the period when the faith in Christ was fully revealed in the promulgation of his Gospel, for which the law served to prepare us.

Another effect of the Law was, to prepare us for the full revelation of the Gospel, and by keeping us, through fear of punishment, from manifest transgressions, to make us aspire after the liberty promised in the Gospel, as one of the blessings of faith.

Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ: that we might be justified by faith.

Wherefore, the law, after restraining our faults, and imbuing us with the knowledge of God, fulfilled, in our regard, the office of pedagogue, by conducting us to Christ, the teacher of true wisdom, and the source of justice, in order that by faith in him we might attain justice.

The Apostle points out the office of the law. Far from being opposed to the promise, it subserved to it, by fulfilling the office of pedagogue or conductor to the Gospel or faith. As it was the duty of the pedagogue or slave, charged with the care of children, to preserve them from vice, and teach them the elements of knowledge—by that means preparing them for more matured instructions under the preceptor—so, the law restrained the Jews from vice, by the fear of correction; it explained to them the elementary truths, regarding the knowledge and service of God; and by its types and ceremonies, it served to lead them gradually to the fulness of truth. The Apostle here speaks of the entire Mosaic law, without grace, to which he here opposes it.

“Our pedagogue in Christ.” In Greek, εἰς Χριστον (eis Christon), unto Christ. (For the meaning of “pedagogue,” see 1 Cor. 4:15).

Gal 3:25 But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a pedagogue.

But now after our introduction to Christ through faith, the services of the pedagogue, i.e., of the law, are to be dispensed with.

Whereas the law has fulfilled its duty, and is now become useless, it should, therefore, cease.

Gal 3:26 For you are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus.

For you all, whether Jews or Gentiles, are, by faith in Jesus Christ, full grown sons of God, and therefore, no longer in need of a pedagogue.

Lest they might object to him and say, why should not we, too, submit, like the Jews, to be conducted to Christ, by the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue, viz., the law: the Apostle says, that faith and baptism conferred on them an adult, full grown spiritual existence; and hence, there was no need for them of a pedagogue.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ.

For all of you who have been baptized, and by baptism incorporated with the mystic body of Christ have been transformed into him, and thus become sons of God.

They all put on Christ in baptism, and were clothed with him as with a garment; hence, they should be assimilated to him in all things. His Spirit should appear in all they do. And as the external garments with which a man is clothed, alone appear; hence, Christ alone should appear in them. As Christ ever conformed to God’s holy and adorable will (“Meus cibus est, ut faciam voluntatem ejus qui misit me. Qiæ placita sunt ei, facio semper,” = My meat is to do the will of him who sent me. I always do what is pleasing to him~Jn 4:34, 8:29) so should all Christians, who in baptism have put him on and have been incorporated with him, do the same.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Without distinction whether of origin, or condition, or sex, you have all by baptism been ingrafted on Christ, and become one mystical body of which he is head.

“There, is neither Jew nor Greek,” &c. All these distinctions are merged in the common character of children of God.—(Kenrick). How calculated are not these words to inspire all Christians with sentiments of love and humility. They should all, in whatever rank or condition of life, regard each other as one, as equal, as co members of the mystical body of Christ; hence, they should love one another, and regard one another, in the light of perfect equality.

Gal 3:29 And if you be Christ’s, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

But if you are of Christ, and one with him; then, you are with him, the sons, the spiritual seed of Abraham; and, consequently, heirs of the benedictions promised to him.

Having become members of Christ, we are sharers in his inheritance and rights, and are blessed in him. What motives of eternal gratitude and love for God, who after our sins, has made us partakers of his blessings and co-heirs with his Son! Stipendium peccati mors.—(the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6:23). But it would appear from the incomprehensible goodness of God to us, that the reward of our grievous sins is not death, but life, the adoption of sons, and co-heirdom with Jesus Christ—“Tibi soli peccavi et malum coram te feci. Peccatum meum contra me est semper.” (Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, Ps 51:4. 51:6 in some translations) .Therefore, we whom God has rescued from hell, should cry out with the same Royal Penitent: Misericordias Domini in eternum cantabo. Nisi quia Deus adjuvat me, paulo minus in inferno habitasset anima mea (The mercies of the Lord I will forever sing. If I had not God as my helper, my soul would have gone down to the grave. See Ps 89:2 (1) and 94:17). Should we not then manifest our gratitude by conforming in everything to Christ, whom we have put on? In every instance, we should ask ourselves this question: How would our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ have acted, in the like circumstances?

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 3:7-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 13, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s summary of all of chapter 3, followed by his notes on verses 7-14. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verse he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

 A Summary of Galatians Chapter 3.
In this chapter, the Apostle, after having conveyed in feeling terms, a mild, paternal rebuke, to the Galatians (Gal 3:1), proceeds to prove by several arguments, that justification comes from faith and not from the works of the law. His first argument is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. The abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost were displayed amongst them, and he asks them, was it from faith these gifts were derived? and he, then, points out their utter folly in having recourse to carnal precepts for the consummation of that sanctification which commenced with faith (Gal 3:2–5). His next argument is derived from the example of Abraham, justified by faith before he received the law, and his justification is the model of ours (Gal 3:6–9). Another argument is derived from the evils entailed by the law, which, far from being the source of a blessing, is the occasion of a curse (Gal 3:10). A further proof, which may be rather termed a fuller development of the preceding, is derived from the difference of the effects flowing from faith and the works of the law (Gal 3:11-12).
He shows how we are freed from the malediction entailed by the law (Gal 3:13-14). His next argument is founded on the nature of the testament which God made with Abraham, and in a strain of reasoning which he elucidates by human examples, he shows this testament to be unchangeable, and not voidable, which would be the result, if justification were to come from the law (Gal 3:15-16). From these arguments he concludes that we are justified by Christ, or rather by faith in him, and not by the law (Gal 3:17-18). He then answers certain objections to which his doctrine and reasoning might give rise, and shows the points in which the Old Law, and the promise made regarding Christ, differed, and the excellency of the latter above the former (Gal 3:19-20). Reverting to the opposition apparently existing between the law and the promise, he shows that there was no opposition between them. They would be really opposed, if the law conferred justice, as the false teachers taught (Gal 3:21). He shows that the law served the promise, by causing men, oppressed with the yoke of sin, to look to the proper source, viz., faith in Christ, for the fruits of the promise (Gal 3:22), and also that it prepared us for the promise, by restraining us from manifest transgressions (Gal 3:23). The law held the same relation to the promise, that the pedagogue does to the preceptor (Gal 3:24). But now its office ceases; hence, abrogated, as being useless (Gal 3:25). The Galatians arrived at once at full grown spiritual existence; and, did not, therefore, require the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue (Gal 3:26). He points out the magnitude of the blessings conferred on them in justification. 

Gal 3:7 Know ye, therefore, that they who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

You must know, therefore, that the believers are alone the true children of Abraham, who are to inherit his promises.

“The children of Abraham,” i.e., the sons, who like Isaac, were to inherit his glorious promises.

Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God justifieth the Gentiles by faith, told unto Abraham before: In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Hence it was, that the Holy Ghost, who speaks through the Scripture, foreseeing the mode in which God would be pleased to justify the nations, viz., by faith, made the announcement of this joyous message long beforehand to Abraham, saying: All the nations of the earth shall receive the rich spiritual blessing of eternal life through thy seed, Christ, and this of course, through faith, the means of justification marked out by him.
Gal 3:9 Therefore, they that are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham.
Therefore, it is the followers of Abraham’s faith that shall inherit the blessings promised to this father and model of all true believers.

In verse 8 the Apostle points out to the Galatians, heretofore ignorant of religion, as being Gentile converts, the advantages of being sons of Abraham, of which the chief was, the receiving the benedictions promised to him. The Apostle also shows how the gracious designs of God in this respect, were long before manifested, and declared to Abraham. “The Scripture foreseeing,” &c., that is, the Holy Ghost, who spoke through the Scripture. “In thee,” which is commonly interpreted, as in Paraphrase; or, “in thee,” like thee, after the model set by thee. This interpretation admirably accords with the following verse, which, interpreted in this way, would be connected thus:—All the nations of the earth shall receive the benedictions of grace and salvation in the same way that Abraham received them, verse 8. Now, Abraham received them through faith. “Abraham believed God,” &c. (Gal 3:6), therefore (Gal 3:9), the believers with Abraham, shall also be blessed with him.

Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written: Cursed is every one that abideth, not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

But as for those who seek for justification from the works of the law, far from receiving a blessing, they are under a curse. For, the law itself pronounces a malediction on all who will not fully comply with every single precept written in the Book of the Law—a requisition with which no man can comply, by the sole aid furnished by the law itself, unless he be strengthened by the graces derived from faith.

It is to be borne in mind, that the Apostle supposes only two sources of justification viz., faith—the source proposed by himself,—and the works of the law proposed by the false teachers. Hence, we can see the force of the question proposed in a disjunctive form (verse 5). In the foregoing verses, he proves by positive argument, that faith is the source of justification. In this verse, he proves the same, negatively, by showing that the works of the law, far from being a source of a benediction, are the occasional cause of a malediction. Similar is the doctrine (Romans 4.) Lex iram operatur. The law prescribes, under pain of malediction, the observance of all its precepts. Now, by the sole aid of the law itself, no one can fulfil the law. (This second proposition is supposed here, as being known from experience, for it was “a yoke which neither the Jews nor their fathers could bear.”—Acts, 15:10). The conclusion, therefore, is, that the law, exclusive of faith, cannot be a source of justification.

Gal 3:11 But that in the law no man is justified with God, it is manifest: because the just man liveth by faith.

Another proof, that justification is from faith, and not from the works of the law, is derived from the difference of effects flowing from faith and the works of the law. For that no one is justified before God, by the law, is plain from the Prophet Habacuc, who ascribes real and internal justification to faith—“the just man liveth by faith.”

In this verse is contained a new proof.—(Vide Paraphrase). The text from Habacuc, “the just man liveth,” &c., is explained.—(Rom. 1:17). See here.

Gal 3:12 But the law is not of faith: but he that doth those things shall live in them.

But this spiritual life, of which the Prophet speaks, and which he ascribes to faith, as its foundation, is quite different from the effects of the law, which only promises those who comply with its precepts, that such compliance will insure them temporal life and abundance.

He that doth these things,” &c. The Apostle here refers to the observance of the law by natural means, and is to be understood only of the principal leading precepts, the violation of which was punishable with death; for, the full observance of the entire law shall justify; but, for this, grace and faith are necessary; because no man can observe the entire law by natural means.—(See Rom. 10:5, for further exposition of this verse).

Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree).

Christ hath freed us from the malediction entailed on us by the law, owing to our inability, from our own natural strength, to fulfil all its precepts; he did so, by meriting for us the grace to fulfil them, on account of his taking upon himself the form and appearance of a malefactor and one cursed by God; for, such were they all termed in the law, who were subjected to the ignominious death inflicted on Christ: “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”—(Deut. 21:13).

“Being made a curse for us.” Christ is said to be made “a curse” for us, in the same way as he was made for us, “sin,” viz., because he assumed its appearance. “He was,” according to the Prophet, “struck by God, who placed upon him the iniquity of us all.”—(Isaias, 53.) “For it is written,” &c. (Deut. 21:23). Those who were hung from a tree, as was our Redeemer, are pronounced accursed in the Law of Moses. The “hanging on a tree” refers not so much to crucifixion, as to the hanging of a body after death on stakes or crosses.—(Josue, 10:26). Oh! what an ineffable mystery of Divine love. The immaculate sanctity of God takes on himself the degraded form of a wretch accursed of Heaven, in order to repair our iniquities. And if God thus punished him who never sinned, for taking upon himself the mere imputability of sin, what shall be the rigours of his punishment on impenitent sinners. “If these things they do in the green wood, what shall be done in the dry?”

Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus: that we may receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.

Christ submitted to this ignominious treatment, and assumed the appearance of a wretch cursed by God, in order that, through him, the spiritual benediction promised Abraham might be imparted to the Gentiles: that by faith we might receive the spirit of sanctification promised to all his sons.

“The promise of the Spirit,” i.e., the promised Spirit, or, the promise that we should receive the Spirit.

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Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Galatians 3:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 13, 2016

SYNOPSIS OF THE CHAPTER

S. Paul proceeds to prove by five reasons that we are justified not by the law, or the works of the law, but by Christ.

i. The first proof is drawn (ver. 2) from experience. The Galatians had received the Holy Spirit and His gifts, not in circumcision, but in baptism.

ii. The second (ver. 6) from the example of Abraham, who was justified because he believed God, i.e., by faith.

iii. The third relies on the fact (ver. 10) that these under the law are under the curse threatened to all who transgress it. But Christ, being made a curse for us, has set us free from the curse of the law.

iv. The fourth is drawn (ver. 11) from Habakkuk ii. 4: “The just liveth by faith.”

v. The fifth insists (ver. 16) that it was to Abraham and his seed that the blessing of righteousness was promised. Therefore, it is by the promise, apprehended by faith, that we are justified, and not by the law. For the law, as is said in ver. 24, was given only as a school-mister to lead us to Christ, that by Him we might be justified, that we might put on Him and become all one with Him.

Gal 3:1 O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth: before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?

On senseless Galatians. “Each province,” says S. Jerome, “has its characteristic. Epimenides notes that the Cretans are liars. The Latin historian charges the Moors with frivolity, Me Dalmatians with ferocity. All the poets condemn the cowardice of the Phrygians. Cicero (‘pro Flacco’) asserts that the Greeks are frivolous by nature and empty by education. In the same way the Apostle, it seems to me, charges the Galatians with their racial defect in describing them as untearable, stubborn, and slow to wisdom.”  S. Jerome again says that Hilary, an impartial witness, calls the Gauls intractable; and again he insists that the stupidity of the Galatians is evident from their inclination to all sorts of foolish heresies. “Whoever has seen, as I have done, Ancyra, the metropolis of Galatia, will bear out my statement that it is torn with schisms. To say nothing of the Cataphrygians, the 0phites, the Borborites, and the Manichæans, whoever in the whole Roman world besides knows more than the names of the Passalorinctæ, the Ascodrobi, the Artotiræ, and other monstrous sects? The traces of ancient folly remain to this day” (in Ep. Galat., Preface, lib. ii.).

Observe that this reproach of the Apostle’s springs, not from indignation, but from charity; it is a material and not a formal rebuke. Cf. Gregory, Past. iii. 8.

Parents who use a thong to punish their sons may still more use their tongue, and burn out their vices by sharp words. Christ called the scribes hypocrites (S. Matt 22:18), and S. Paul called Elymas a child of the devil (Acts 13:10). The keenness, however, of the rebuke is toned down here by the following words—”Who hath bewitched you?”—which attribute their folly to the influence of the Jews.

Who hath bewitched you? The Greek word here signifies (1.) to, envy. “What Jew has envied you your Gospel liberty?” (Theophylact and Anselm). It denotes (2.) to fascinate, charm, bind the eyes, so as to make them to see what is not, or not to see what is. This second sense better suits the context—before whose eyes Christ hath been evidently set forth. It was through the fixed look of the person casting the spell that the charm was commonly made to work. Virgil refers to this in the line, “Some eye is casting its spell on my tender lambs.”  S. Paul’s question then means: “What evil eye has seduced you, 0 Galatians, yet young in the faith, to the delusion of Judaism?” “The evil eye,” says Jerome, “is peculiarly hurtful to infants, and those of tender years, and who cannot yet run alone.”

Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth. The Vulgate is præscriptus, which is rendered by Anselm, disinherited; by Ambrose, spoiled, in the sense: You have deprived Christ of His lawful inheritance, the Church.

S. Augustine, according to Erasmus, understands the word to allude to legal prescription, by which, after a certain time (three years in the case of movables, ten years in the case of immovables), possession gave a title to ownership. Christ, by the prescription of the Old Law, which for so many hundreds of years enjoyed the name of the Free Law, was shut out from His possession, the Church. But Erasmus has misread S. Augustine, as is evident from the best MSS. The latter reads proscriptus, and comments on it thus: “The Jews took away His inheritance, and drove Him out,” which is an act of proscription, not of prescription.

S. Jerome interprets præscriptus to mean that the death of Christ was predicted by the prophets and in the sacraments of the Old Law.

But there is a third and better meaning. Christ was put by writing, or by a picture, before your very eyes, crucified. The Galatians had not been spectators of the actual Crucifixion, but Christ had by preaching and faith been represented to them as crucified. This interpretation makes it necessary to supply as though before crucified.

The sense, then, is: Though crucified at Jerusalem in fact, yet Christ has been represented as though crucified before you, 0 Galatians, by my preaching and your faith. By the eyes of faith you have seen Christ hanging on the Cross more clearly than did the Jews who stood at its foot. Who, then, has cast a spell upon those eyes which have so clearly seen Christ crucified?

It is possible, however, that the words are to be taken literally. In your own age, in the presence perhaps of some of you, and in a country not far removed, Christ was marked out by the instruments of His Passion, and depicted as your Saviour. While the colours then are so fresh on the canvas, how can you be so bewitched as to forget so great and so recent a benefit?

In this sense Christ Himself crucified is, as it were, a picture or a book in which He is described in blood-red letters. Do you wish to know who Christ is and what He is like? Open this book, look at the Cross, see the title, Jesus of Nazareth—i.e., Consecrator, who has consecrated us to God—King of the Jews. You will find it written. “Christ was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” He alone bore and expiated our sin, for what is sin but Christicide or Deicide? You will read too in this book, in the wounds and blood of Christ, that it was love of you which formed and coloured Him so. In His whole body you will see love written, nay, engraved. This book, in short, will show to one who reads and looks well all the wisdom of Christ, and the very depths of Christian philosophy.

Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?

Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? The Spirit here is the Holy Spirit, with His visible gifts of tongues and prophecy, which He used to give in baptism, as outward tokens of the invisible graces He there infused. S. Paul asks the Galatians whether it is not clear that they received the Spirit and His gifts, not from circumcision, but in baptism.

The hearing of faith. Hearing can be taken here either actively, in reference to the preaching they heard, or passively, in reference to their hearkening to and obeying the faith preached. Cf. Isa 51:4-7.

Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?

Whereas you began in the Spirit. With the spiritual doctrine of Christ, and the spiritual gifts received from Him, enabling you to live the spiritual life.

You would now be made perfect by the flesh? The flesh is put for circumcision and other carnal ceremonies of the law. The interpretation which sees here a reference to the carnal lusts of the flesh is disproved by the context. Made perfect is in the Vulgate consumemini.

S. Bernard (Serm. 33 in Cant.) applies this text to those who exhaust their strength by unrestrained devotion, through excessive prayers and penances. Afterwards, he says, they become lazy, and are consumed by the flesh, while seeking for health, and so become sensual and carnal. Cf. notes to 1 Cor 3:2.

Theophylact observes that S. Paul uses the passive, not the active—”Are you made perfect?” not, “Do you make perfect?” i.e., he hints that they were like brute beasts, in suffering themselves to be circumcised by others. He also notes that he does not say merely πεγει̃σθε, but ε̉πιτελει̃σθε: After being perfected in Christ, will you seek a perfection beyond in the Old Law? Do you want to add a fifth wheel to the coach?

Gal 3:4 Have you suffered so great things in vain? If it be yet in vain.

Have you suffered so great things in vain? Why should unbelievers persecute you in vain, i.e., without cause, if you are returning to Moses?

If it be yet in vain. Which it will be, unless you return to your former mind, and stand firm in the faith of Christ.

Gal 3:5 He therefore who giveth to you the Spirit and worketh miracles among you: doth he do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of the faith?

He therefore who giveth. I.e., God or Christ, who infuses His grace, and works in you by His Divine power. Cf. 1 Cor 12:6.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 3:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 13, 2016

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s summary of all of chapter 3, followed by his notes on verses 1-5. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verse he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

A Summary of Galatians Chapter 3.
In this chapter, the Apostle, after having conveyed in feeling terms, a mild, paternal rebuke, to the Galatians (Gal 3:1), proceeds to prove by several arguments, that justification comes from faith and not from the works of the law. His first argument is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. The abundant gifts of the Holy Ghost were displayed amongst them, and he asks them, was it from faith these gifts were derived? and he, then, points out their utter folly in having recourse to carnal precepts for the consummation of that sanctification which commenced with faith (Gal 3:2–5). His next argument is derived from the example of Abraham, justified by faith before he received the law, and his justification is the model of ours (Gal 3:6–9). Another argument is derived from the evils entailed by the law, which, far from being the source of a blessing, is the occasion of a curse (Gal 3:10). A further proof, which may be rather termed a fuller development of the preceding, is derived from the difference of the effects flowing from faith and the works of the law (Gal 3:11-12).
He shows how we are freed from the malediction entailed by the law (Gal 3:13-14). His next argument is founded on the nature of the testament which God made with Abraham, and in a strain of reasoning which he elucidates by human examples, he shows this testament to be unchangeable, and not voidable, which would be the result, if justification were to come from the law (Gal 3:15-16). From these arguments he concludes that we are justified by Christ, or rather by faith in him, and not by the law (Gal 3:17-18). He then answers certain objections to which his doctrine and reasoning might give rise, and shows the points in which the Old Law, and the promise made regarding Christ, differed, and the excellency of the latter above the former (Gal 3:19-20). Reverting to the opposition apparently existing between the law and the promise, he shows that there was no opposition between them. They would be really opposed, if the law conferred justice, as the false teachers taught (Gal 3:21). He shows that the law served the promise, by causing men, oppressed with the yoke of sin, to look to the proper source, viz., faith in Christ, for the fruits of the promise (Gal 3:22), and also that it prepared us for the promise, by restraining us from manifest transgressions (Gal 3:23). The law held the same relation to the promise, that the pedagogue does to the preceptor (Gal 3:24). But now its office ceases; hence, abrogated, as being useless (Gal 3:25). The Galatians arrived at once at full grown spiritual existence; and, did not, therefore, require the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue (Gal 3:26). He points out the magnitude of the blessings conferred on them in justification. 

Gal 3:1 O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth: before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?  

O senseless Galatians, slow of understanding, what magic influence could have so far bewitched you, as to give up the true faith, especially after the vivid picture, which I exhibited to you, of the death of Christ, as vivid and as striking as if he were really crucified before your eyes.

“Senseless.” The Greek word, ανοητοι (anoetoi), means stupid, or devoid of mind and understanding. “Who hath bewitched,” &c. The Galatians would appear, he says, to be under the influence of witchcraft, by which their senses were so perverted, that truth appeared as falsehood, and vice versa. “That you should not obey the truth.” These words are wanting in some Greek copies, and omitted by St. Jerome. They are admitted to be authentic by Matthæi, and others. “Jesus Christ hath been set forth,” which is read by others, “Christ hath been proscribed or condemned.” The meaning in the Paraphrase is the one more in accordance with the present Greek reading. “Set forth,” προεγραφη  (proegraphe), præscriptus est; a pictorial term, conveying an allusion to paintings exposed for public inspection. From these words, the Apostle wishes the Galatians to understand, that the vivid picture which he drew for them of Christ’s crucifixion, should have made a lasting impression on their minds, and preserved them from error, as regarded the necessity or sufficiency of the Mosaic ceremonies, whose total abrogation the mystery of Christ’s death so loudly proclaimed..

Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?  

This one point I only wish to know from you. From what source was derived the spirit of graces and miracles which you received at your justification, and abundantly displayed amongst you? Was it from faith communicated through the hearing of my preaching, or from the works of the law?

He now enters on the subject of this chapter, viz., that justification comes not from the works of the law, but from faith. The first proof of this proposition is derived from the experience of the Galatians themselves. They received “the Spirit,” i.e., the Holy Ghost, at their conversion, and his gifts of miracles, tongues, &c., which were visibly displayed amongst them. These gifts accompanied justification, and although their presence is not always a proof of sanctity in individuals, as is clear from the Gospel—“nonne in nomine tuo prophetavimus, dæmonia cjecimus?” &c. (“Have we not prophesied in thy name, cast out demons, etc.” The reference is to Matt. 7:22 ), to whom the answer given is, “Amen, dico vobis, nescio vos;” (an allusion to Mt 7:23~”I profess unto them, I never knew you,” etc.,) still, when plenteously conferred on a multitude, it is a proof of the giving of the Holy Ghost in real and internal justification. The answer to his question, which the Apostle knew would be given, is—these gifts came from faith, since the Galatians, as being Gentiles, knew nothing of the works of the Jewish law, before their conversion.

Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?  

Are you so far advanced in folly, as, contrary to all order, after having commenced your justification by spiritual means, of which faith is the basis, to attempt to perfect this by the carnal observance of a law, which brought nothing to perfection?

From the supposed answer, the Apostle shows the utter folly of the Galatians in inverting all order, by recurring in the first instance, to spiritual means for justification, and then endeavouring to perfect the justification by carnal means, such as the ceremonial law was, which effected carnal purification. Right reason pointed out the contrary order of advancing, viz., from carnal to the adoption of spiritual means.

Gal 3:4 Have you suffered so great things in vain? If it be yet in vain.  

Have you endured so many sufferings and labours in the cause of the faith without any fruit or profit? I hope, however, that by your sincere repentance, you will recover the full fruits of your former good works, which have been lost to you by sin.

They gave a further proof of their folly, in losing the merit of their past sufferings, by falling back to Jewish ceremonies. “If yet in vain.” He corrects his former saying, and expresses a hope, that their past good works and sufferings may revive by penance and prove of avail to them. On the latter words of this verse, Divines ground a probable proof of the reviviscence, by penance, of the merit of former good works performed in a state of grace, but now lost, as to their fruit, or as they are termed, mortified, owing to mortal sin. Others understood them in an exceptive sense, if it be only in vain, as if to say, it might have gone farther, and be the source of their perdition.

Gal 3:5 He therefore who giveth to you the Spirit and worketh miracles among you: doth he do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of the faith?

I now repeat my former question (verse 2): Did God impart to you his Holy Spirit, and did he perform miracles of power amongst you, owing to your observance of the works of the law, or in consequence of the spirit of faith which you received from hearing my preaching? (Of course you will answer, it was owing to faith, since you knew nothing of the works of the law at the time).

 He repeats the question proposed (verse 2), in order to connect it with the following verse. The answer of course is, that given in Paraphrase. This answer is understood, and keeping this in mind, the Apostle proceeds to the following verse 6. “Miracles among you.” In Greek, miracles in you.

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