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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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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 5:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 13, 2014

This post opens with a brief analysis of the chapter as a whole, followed by the comments on today’s first reading (Gal 5:1-6). Text in purple indicates MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 5
 The Apostle commences this chapter, by exhorting the Galatians to persevere in the Gospel liberty, into which Christ had asserted them (Gal 5:1)—and adduces several motives for deterring them from submitting to the bondage of the Mosaic law. First, if they submit to circumcision, their Christian profession will prove of no avail to them (Gal 5:2); secondly, they would be bound to the entire law by receiving circumcision (Gal 5:3); thirdly, they would forfeit all the blessings of Christianity (Gal 5:4); fourthly, because it is by faith, animated by charity, and not by any carnal means, justification is obtained (Gal 5:5-6). He deplores the interruption that happened the Galatians in their onward course of Christian perfection; their deviation from the straight path he ascribes to their intercourse with false teachers, whom the father of lies employed to corrupt their faith, as a little leaven corrupts the entire mass (Gal 5:7–9). He expresses his firm hope that, through God’s grace they will repent, and denounces a merited sentence of judgment against the men, who were instrumental in unsettling their faith (Gal 5:10). He refutes the calumny circulated regarding himself by his enemies—viz., that he observed the legal ceremonies, by referring to the notoriety of his persecution for having insisted on the abolition of these ceremonies (Gal 5:11). He expresses a wish, that these false teachers would be not only circumcised, but altogether cut off from the Church (Gal 5:12). He exhorts the Galatians to the practice of the Christian virtues, especially of charity, to which the whole law is reduced (Gal 5:13-14). He animadverts on the deplorable absence of charity for one another from among them (Gal 5:15). He assigns one general means of observing charity, which is, to walk according to the impulse of God’s spirit, the motions of which are diametrically opposed to those of the flesh (Gal 5:16-18). In order to guard them against all error on a subject which so vitally concerns their salvation, he recounts the works of the flesh, and the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:19-23). He next points out the obligations imposed upon them by the very nature of their Christian professions, to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and live according to the Spirit (Gal 5:24-26).

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 (Gal 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 Gal 4:9).

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

Behold, I, Paul, your divinely commissioned Apostle, openly announce and proclaim to you, that if you submit to circumcision, you shall have no share in the benefits of Christ; your Christian profession shall be of no avail to you.

“Behold, I Paul.” He used the word, “Behold,” for the purpose of arresting their attention, and he introduces his own name, to show that he is about to address them authoritatively, in quality of true Apostle, on an important subject of faith, touching the necessity of uniting the legal ceremonies with the Gospel—a point on which they were led astray by the false teachers. “Christ shall profit you nothing.” The benefits of Christ’s death and passion shall be lost to them, since, by such a course, they renounce their Christian profession altogether. Of what avail shall his Christian profession be to the sinner, who by his profane, carnal, and animal life, expels Christ and his Holy Spirit from his breast? It shall serve only to deepen his damnation.

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

And in addition to the declaration just made, I once more solemnly declare to every man, who, by submitting to circumcision, wishes to be incorporated with the Jewish synagogue, that he is bound to the observance of the entire law.

The false teachers taught the Galatians, that it was sufficient for them to observe the leading points of the Mosaic law, such as the observance of Sabbaths, new moons, &c. The Apostle, on the contrary, informed them, that so long as they labour under their erroneous convictions, and submitted to circumcision, they are bound to the numberless burthens of the law; because circumcision was a public profession of the Jewish religion, as baptism is of Christianity. Hence, a man is obliged to follow the dictates of an erroneous conscience.

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

You have rendered void in your regard all the blessings of Christianity, or, you have renounced Christianity; by seeking to be justified through the law, you have fallen away from sanctifying grace.

You are made void of Christ,” convey a strong repetition of the words, verse 2, “Christ shall profit you nothing.” In other words, they cease to be true Christians, notwithstanding their external profession of Christianity.

“You are fallen from grace.” Hence, grace is not inamissible, as some of the Galatians must have sinned mortally.

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

For we, true and sincere Christians, seek for, and hope to obtain, the justice for which we long, through the spirit of grace and charity which is imparted by faith.

A proof that they ceased to be Christians, is their having recourse to means of justification quite different from that pointed out by the law of Christ. “We,” true Christians, “wait for,” απεκδεχομεθα (apekdechometha), patiently wait for, “the hope of justice,” i.e., the justice which we all hope and long for, including perseverance in the same justice, and its final consummation in eternal glory, by spiritual means, of which the groundwork and source is faith (“by faith”); whereas the Galatians resorted to carnal ceremonies and the works of the law.

Gal 5:6  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by Charity.

For in Christianity, it conduces no way to justice or salvation, whether a person be circumcised or uncircumcised, the only thing of avail is faith, which is perfected, and which operates, by charity, that is, which is joined to the observance of the commandments, and the performance of good works.

The reason why recourse should be had to faith rather than to the works of the law for justification is, because in “Christ Jesus,” i.e., in Christianity, or in our union and fellowship with Christ, it avails not for justification whether one be circumcised or not. The system of justification, in the present order of things, is founded on faith; but this faith must not be sterile or inoperative, like the faith of demons; it must be active and operative, animated and “worked by charity.” The Greek for “worketh,” or, displays its energy, ενεργουμενη (energoumene), might be also rendered passively, which is energized, or, worked, i.e., formed or animated “by charity.” The meaning, however, is the same; for, if faith be animated by charity, it proceeds to works, and so “worketh by charity.” Hence, faith alone is not sufficient for justification or salvation.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2014

This post opens with MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Galatians 2 followed by his commentary on today’s reading. Text in purple represents his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS 2:1-21

Gal 2:1 THEN, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.

Then, after an interval of fourteen years, during which I preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, I went up again to Jerusalem, accompanied by Barnabas, and we took Titus also with us.

“Then after fourteen years.” The more probable opinion is, that these fourteen years are to be computed, not from his going up to Jerusalem the first time (chap. 1 verse 18), as St. Jerome maintains, but from his conversion, which is the opinion of St. Thomas and. Baronius. From the Acts it appears, that St. Paul went up five different times to Jerusalem. The present refers to his third visit, when he assisted at the Council of Jerusalem, the occasion of which is referred to (Acts, chap. 15). With no other visit could the matter referred to here correspond. “I went up to Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was built on hilly ground; hence, our Lord says in the Gospel—“Behold we go up to Jerusalem.”

Gal 2:2 And I went up according to revelation and communicated to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles: but apart to them who seemed to be some thing: lest perhaps I should run or had run in vain.

But I went up, after having been admonished by a Divine revelation; and, in public, I conferred with the faithful of Jerusalem, respecting the Gospel which I preached among the Gentiles. But, in private conferences, I communicated with the principal Apostles, not from any feeling of doubt I had of the truth of my doctrine, but in order to insure the success of my past and future labours, by avoiding even the shadow of difference between the principal Apostles and myself.

“According to revelation.” Is it not said (Acts, 15), that he was delegated by the people of Antioch to confer with the Apostles referring the necessity of imposing the observance of the legal ceremonies on the converted Gentiles? Both assertions are perfectly reconcilable, inasmuch as the revelation from God may have tended to the same object with the delegation on the part of the people of Antioch and would only confirm St. Paul in his resolve to carry it out.

“And conferred with them”—that is, the brethren at Jerusalem. Others understand “them” to have the same meaning as the following words: “but apart with them who seemed,” &c. It is better, however, with Estius and others, to understand the word as in the Paraphrase; for, there seems to be a manifest difference between this word and the following words, “who seemed to be something.” Probably, the subject about which he conferred in private with the principal Apostles, regarded the propriety of exempting not only the Gentiles from the legal ceremonies, which was publicly discussed and authoritatively decided, but the Jews also. Regarding this latter point of doctrine, it was not deemed prudent to hold discussions in public. “I conferred.” The Greek word, ανεθεμην (anethemen), does not imply any doubt on his part (as in Paraphrase). “Who seemed to be something.” “Something,” is not in the Greek, which simply is, τοῖς δοκοῦσιν (tois doukousin), but the Vulgate expresses the meaning, viz., who were of consideration or repute. “Run in vain,” by giving any grounds for believing that his labours were either without fruit or his mission not duly accredited.

Gal 2:7 But contrariwise, when they had seen that to me was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision, as to Peter was that of the circumcision.
Gal 2:8 (For he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision wrought in me also among the Gentiles.)

7 But on the contrary, far from making any change in my doctrine, when they saw that the commission of preaching the Gospel among the Gentiles was confided to me, as that of preaching among the Jews was to Peter:
8 (For, the same God who manifested his power in Peter for the conversion of the Jews, by the wonderful success that attended his preaching among them, manifested the same power in me for converting the Gentiles, by the abundant success of my preaching among the latter)
.

By the abundant success which attended the preaching of St. Paul among the Gentiles, and the preaching of St. Peter among the Jews, together with the miracles and other gifts of the Holy Ghost, with which they were favoured, God showed that the Apostleship of St. Paul was to be chiefly exercised among the Gentiles, and that of St. Peter among the Jews.

Gal 2:9 And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision:

And when, from undoubted evidence, they became convinced of the special grace of Apostleship, among the Gentiles, which was confided to me, James, Peter, and John, the three Apostles who were in most repute, extended to myself and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship in the apostleship, which we were to exercise among the Gentiles, and they among the Jews.

From the miraculous success with which the labours of St. Paul were blessed among the Gentiles, the Apostles became convinced of the special grace of apostleship among the Gentiles, which was confided to him. They admitted him, therefore, into fellowship, and parcelled out the Gentile world, as the theatre of his future labours. This passage does not furnish even the shadow of an argument against the Primacy over the entire Church, “lambs and sheep,” i.e., pastors and people, divinely accorded to St. Peter. For, the latter did preach among the Gentiles also, in fulfilment of the command, “kill and eat.”—(Acts, 10). And St. Paul was a vessel of election to carry the name of Christ not only “before the Gentiles” but also “before the children of Israel”—(Acts, 9:15).

Gal 2:10 Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do.

With this sole injunction, that we would be mindful of the poor of Jerusalem, who, by voluntary cession, or by confiscation of their property, were reduced to want—a duty, which we discharged with the utmost solicitude.

The poor referred to here, are the faithful of Jerusalem, of whom some voluntarily surrendered their goods to be enjoyed in common; others were unjustly deprived of them, and were, in consequence, in great want. The care of the poor specially devolves on the minister of religion—they are the dearest portion of His flock, who is, “the father of orphans and the judge of widows.” Woe to him, who, through either pusillanimity, or a cowardly fear of the countenance of the mighty, or a feeling of selfish complaisance, with a view of gaining the favour, and of becoming the accepted minister at the tables of their oppressors, shall sacrifice the interests, or neglect the defence, of the afflicted poor of Jesus Christ! And this holds particularly true, if the unjust persecution of the poor be traceable, as it generally is, in this unhappy country, to religious rancour and hatred of their faith. If the poor of this unhappy country professed any other than the true faith—nay, if they were Pagans or Mahommedans—they would not be treated with the inhuman and heart-rending cruelty, which is daily exercised in their regard. Woe, eternal woe, to the pastor and ecclesiastic who turns a deaf ear to their cries, and from motives of selfishness, or worldly prudence, or love of self-ease, neglects to adopt all peaceful and constitutional means to ameliorate their unhappy condition! If they were of any other religion they would not put up with the treatment they are enduring, nor would their oppressors dare to treat them so. But they are taught to look forward for other possessions in store for “the meek,” and for those who “possess their souls in patience.”

Gal 2:11 But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal 2:12 For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision.

11 But when, after the close of the Council of Jerusalem, Peter came to Antioch, whither I had returned (Acts, 16); I publicly and openly resisted him, because he was deserving of reprehension.
12For, before the arrival of certain Jews from Jerusalem, where James presided as bishop, Peter had eaten with the Gentiles without any distinction of meats: but when the Jews arrived, he withdrew and separated himself from the company of the Gentiles, fearing to offend or scandalize the Jews.

St. Peter silently submitted to the rebuke here dealt out to him; which was another proof that St. Paul was correct in his views on the subject of the legal ceremonies—the question at issue. St. Peter did at first, by his mode of acting, acknowledge the abolition of the legal ceremonies (verse 12). But, afterwards, by an act of inconsiderateness, which rendered him really reprehensible, he abstained from the society of the Gentiles—with whom he partook of all kinds of meats without distinction—for fear of giving offence to certain Jews, who came down from Jerusalem. This mode of acting was calculated to leave the Gentiles under an erroneous impression. Hence, the rebuke dealt out to him by St. Paul.

“Because he was blameable.” The Greek is, ὅτι κατεγνωσμενος ἦν (hoti kategnosmenos en), because he was blamed or reprehended, which is employed for “reprehensible” or “blameable,” by a Hebrew idiom, according to which the passive participle is used for the verbal adjective. The Hebrews, we are told by St. Jerome, have no verbal adjective ending in bilis.

Gal 2:13 And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented: so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation.

And the other Jews dissembled along with him; and so great was the force of their example, that even Barnabas, the partner of my journeys and labours, was led to join in the same course of dissimulation.

“And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented.” The Greek word, συνυπεκριθησαν (synypekrithesan), means, dissembled together with him.

Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

But when I saw, that, by this mode of acting, they were not conforming to the truth of the Gospel, I said publicly in the hearing of all to Peter: If you, although a Jew, and of Jewish extraction, avail yourself of the Gospel liberty of using all kinds of meat without distinction, why invite and force the Gentiles by your example to embrace and live up to the forms of the Mosaic law, which by our own former conduct you have pronounced unnecessary, even for the Jews themselves?

Their mode of acting was not walking directly or strictly in conformity with the truth of the gospel, it was rather staggering between the Gospel and the Old Law; and so, it elicited this strong reproof from St. Paul.

It was a matter of grave dispute between St. Jerome and St. Augustine, whether the Apostle really reprehended St. Peter, or only affected to do so, as the result of a preconcerted arrangement between them, in order that by a public apparent reproof of this kind, the Jews might be taught the inutility of the Mosaic ceremonies. St. Augustine, whose opinion St. Jerome appears to have afterwards adopted, maintained, that St. Peter, by such conduct, committed a sin, not of heresy, but of inconsiderateness, which was, of its own nature, venial, and that so, he was really censured by St. Paul. The words of this verse favour the opinion of St. Augustine, who holds that it was real and not pretended reproof: and although it is maintained by many that the Apostles were confirmed in grace, this still does not exclude the possibility of their falling into venial sins.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 5:25-26, 6:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 30, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief summary analysis of all of Galatians chapter 5, followed by his notes on Gal 5:25-26. After this comes the Bishop’s brief summary analysis of Galatians chapter 6, followed by his notes on Gal 6:1-10. Text in purple represents the Bishop’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 5

 

The Apostle commences this chapter, by exhorting the Galatians to persevere in the Gospel liberty, into which Christ had asserted them (Gal 5:1)—and adduces several motives for deterring them from submitting to the bondage of the Mosaic law. First, if they submit to circumcision, their Christian profession will prove of no avail to them (Gal 5:2); secondly, they would be bound to the entire law by receiving circumcision (Gal 5:3); thirdly, they would forfeit all the blessings of Christianity (Gal 5:4); fourthly, because it is by faith, animated by charity, and not by any carnal means, justification is obtained (Gal 5:5, 6). He deplores the interruption that happened the Galatians in their onward course of Christian perfection; their deviation from the straight path he ascribes to their intercourse with false teachers, whom the father of lies employed to corrupt their faith, as a little leaven corrupts the entire mass (Gal 5:7–9). He expresses his firm hope that, through God’s grace they will repent, and denounces a merited sentence of judgment against the men, who were instrumental in unsettling their faith (Gal 5:10). He refutes the calumny circulated regarding himself by his enemies—viz., that he observed the legal ceremonies, by referring to the notoriety of his persecution for having insisted on the abolition of these ceremonies (Gal 5:11). He expresses a wish, that these false teachers would be not only circumcised, but altogether cut off from the Church (Gal 5:12). He exhorts the Galatians to the practice of the Christian virtues, especially of charity, to which the whole law is reduced (Gal 5:13, 14). He animadverts on the deplorable absence of charity for one another from among them (Gal 5:15). He assigns one general means of observing charity, which is, to walk according to the impulse of God’s spirit, the motions of which are diametrically opposed to those of the flesh (Gal 5:16, 17, 18). In order to guard them against all error on a subject which so vitally concerns their salvation, he recounts the works of the flesh, and the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:23). He next points out the obligations imposed upon them by the very nature of their Christian professions, to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and live according to the Spirit.

Gal 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 

But if we are interiorily animated by the Spirit, let us express this in our exterior conduct, in our actions.

Our lives, the whole tenor of our actions, should be strictly conformable to the dictates of the spirit by which we are animated.

Gal 5:26  Let us not be made desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Let us lay aside all desires of vain glory, which causes us to provoke one another, and if unsuccessful to envy one another.

Spiritual sins, such as the desire of empty glory arising from the repute of learning, eloquence, and other acquirements, are by no means uncommon among such as are perfectly free from the dominion of carnal sins. They are the more dangerous because rarely perceived; and therefore, but rarely scrupled, as they should; for, spiritual pride, arising from the possession of virtues, with which others are not equally favoured, is generally so latent in its approach, and so subtle in its operation, that even among persons devoted to God, it works great mischief in the soul, before it is thought of, and, not unfrequently, is the root of great disorders. How deep and solid should be the humility of those whom God favours with his graces, and stimulates to enter on his divine service. They should always bear in mind, that of themselves they are nothing; that all they possess is received; that left to themselves, there is no crime, however grievous or shameful, they are not capable of committing, as perhaps a sad experience of the past may but too clearly prove to them. How many have entered on God’s service with the most generous dispositions, and laboured well for some time; a latent pride, however, insensibly insinuated itself. They gloried in their good actions, as if coming from themselves. In the pride of their heart they said, “ascendam.” They fell away and became reprobates. Hence, we should unceasingly cry out with the Psalmist: “Create in me, O God, a clean heart, and renew a right spirit, within my bowels.” “From my hidden sins cleanse me.” “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give glory.” This is particularly important for those who have been consecrated to the service of God.

ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 6

In this chapter, the Apostle inculcates, in particular cases, the exercise of charity, the necessity of which he had shown in a general way, in the foregoing (Gal 5:14). He exhorts those who are well instructed in the faith, to discharge the duty of charitable correction with regard to their weaker brethren. This, however, was to be done in a spirit of compassionate meekness and clemency, which the consideration of their own frailty would easily suggest to them (Gal 6:1). They should sympathize with their weak brethren, and, far from growing proud at the contrast between their own works and the frailties of others, should rather be humbled at the prospect of the account they are to render before a just Judge for their own transgressions (Gal 6:2–5). He exhorts them to the performance of good works, particularly the good work of supporting their teachers (Gal 6:6). He exhorts them to persevere in sowing the seeds of virtue, from a consideration of the rich harvest of glory which they were to reap. They should exhibit benevolence towards all men, but, in a special manner, towards the faithful members of the Church (Gal 6:5–10). He derives a final argument against the doctrine of the false teachers respecting the legal ceremonies, from the corrupt morals of these men, and the base motives by which they were actuated, in urging the Galatians to receive circumcision (Gal 6:11–13). Their motive was, first, to please the Jews, and thus avoid persecution (Gal 6:12); and, secondly, to have matter for glorying in the circumcision of the Galatians as brought about by themselves (Gal 6:13). The Apostle shows how different are the objects he has in view. He glories only in the cross of Christ; and, secondly, far from seeking human applause, by this cross he is become an object of aversion to the world (Gal 6:14). He assigns reasons for glorying only in the cross and passion of Christ (Gal 6:15, 16); and, finally, furnishes the Galatians, when tempted, or constrained to be circumcised (Gal 6:12), with a general answer which they were to give to those who were molesting them (Gal 6:17). The words of this verse are spoken by the Apostle in the name of the Galatians.
Gal 6:1  Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Brethren, should any one, owing either to the seduction of the false teachers, or, the strength of temptation, chance to be surprised in any of the above mentioned faults, particularly heresy or apostacy: let these amongst you, who are strong and well instructed in the faith, and live according to the dictates of God’s Holy Spirit, instruct and restore him to spiritual health, but with all mildness and humility, keeping before your eyes your own weakness, which renders you liable to commit sin and yield to temptation.

“Overtaken,” i.e., suddenly surprised, “in any fault.” i.e., in any of the faults termed in the preceding chapter, “works of the flesh.” He particularly refers to the sin of yielding to the teaching of the false teachers respecting the legal ceremonies. “Spiritual,” refers to the better instructed in the faith amongst them. “Instruct!” the Greek word, καταρτιζετε, means to restore such a person to sound faith, and to grace; the idea is borrowed from restoring a disjointed limb to its proper place in the body. In the present instance, this is to be done by timely instruction and correction. “Considering thyself;” he employs the singular number in order to bring the matter home to the conscience of each one; it is less harsh to admonish them individually, than to address the entire body. “In the spirit of mildness.” This regards not the correction of such sinners, as are obstinate in sin; for, these latter should be treated with rigour, as the Apostle himself wished that Titus would treat the Cretans.—(Titus, 1).

Gal 6:2  Bear ye one another’s burdens: and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ.

With compassionate sympathy, correct those who have fallen, in such a way as if their sins and infirmities were your own and borne by yourselves, and thus you will accomplish the Law of Christ, viz., his peculiar precept of charity.

“Burdens” refer to sins of every description, especially to the sin of apostacy. “They bear one another’s burdens” by the true spirit of sympathy, by compassionating each other, and instructing each other in the spirit of meekness. “Bear,” βασταζετε, means, to bear a burden placed on one. “And so you shall fulfil.” The common Greek text has, αναπληρωσατε, so fulfil. The future, ανεπληρωσετε, is found in the chief MSS.

 Gal 6:3  For if any man think himself to be some thing, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

For, if any person form a high idea of his own excellence—to which his harsh treatment of his infirm brother may be traced—such a person, in truth, seduces himself, since, in reality, he is of himself but nothing.

He points out the source of the harsh treatment of our weaker brethren; it is pride, or the false opinion of our own superior excellence. The Apostle assails this vice, and asserts, that left to themselves, and unaided by God’s grace, the firmest amongst them could be nothing in the order of salvation. “Deceiveth,” φρεναπατᾶ, deceives his own mind.

Gal 6:4  But let every one prove his own work: and so he shall have glory in himself only and not in another.
Let each one try and examine his life and actions according to the rules of faith and morality, and not mind comparing them with the works of his neighbour, and thus he will have cause for glorying in his own work, on account of its real merit, and not from the contrast with the failings and imperfections of others
Gal 6:5  For every one shall bear his own burden
.
For in the just judgment of God, each one shall have to bear the full weight of his own sins, without any extenuation from a contrast with others.

In this verse, he alludes to a certain class of men who, like the Pharisee in the Gospel, boasted of their own good works, from the contrast with their weaker brethren. Non sum sicut ceteri.—(Luke, 18:11). In this passage, we are furnished with most excellent instructions regarding the mode of administering correction to our infirm brethren. We should, as much as possible, excuse them. Their fault may have been the result of sudden passion or violent temptation. They may have been “overtaken” in it. We should “instruct” them and restore them to grace with the greatest meekness. Correction being of itself bitter and repugnant to our corrupt nature, should be rendered as sweet as possible, both in word and manner. It should merely insinuate the fault and extenuate it as much as possible. It should carry with it a due consideration of our own frailty, both as regards the past—did we ever do so ourselves? the present—are we subject to the same failing? and the future—what shall become of ourselves hereafter, in the same circumstances? This is the neighbour’s day for sinning, to-morrow shall be mine, said an ancient Father. How many are permitted by God to fall into sin, in punishment of their undue severity towards the fallen? Cassian (Collat. 2, chap. 13), mentions a frightful instance of this, in the lives of the ancient Fathers. We should so sympathize with our sinning brethren, as if we were bearing their sins on ourselves. We should guard against pride, like the Pharisee, on account of the misdeeds of others; and in judging of our own actions, we should only think of the just and tremendous judgment of God, in which they shall be examined.

Gal 6:6  And let him that is instructed in the word communicate to him that instructeth him, in all good things.

Let him who receives instruction in the doctrine of faith, share with his spiritual teacher, all his tem poral substance.

“Let him that is instructed,” &c. In the Greek it runs literally thus: κοινωνειτω δὲ ὁ κατηχούμενος τὸν λόγον τῷ κατηχοῦντι, let him who is catechised in the word, communicate, to his catechist, &c., i.e., make his spiritual instructor a sharer in all his temporal substance. The Apostle prescribes this, lest his reproof of the “spiritual” men, among whom were to be reckoned their instructors, should alienate from them the affections of their disciples, and thus cause them to be deprived of the necessary support. Catechetical, or viva voce instruction, was the method of imparting religious knowledge adopted by the Apostles. It is the fittest and most efficacious. Woe to the pastor of souls, who neglects it!

Gal 6:7  Be not deceived: God is not mocked.

Be not deceived in alleging vain excuses of in ability to comply with this natural precept of supporting your teachers. God, who is to judge you in such matters, will not be mocked.

Some interpreters connect this with verse 4, thus: “Be not deceived,” in judging of yourselves by the defects of others; for, “God is not mocked,” and this latter connexion well accords with the following verse.

Gal 6:8  For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.

For whatsoever things a man shall have sown, the same shall he reap. For, whosoever shall indulge in forbidden pleasures, which he shall have cast as seed into the flesh, shall reap of this same flesh the harvest of death and corruption. But whosoever shall have performed spiritual works, of which the grace of God’s spirit is the principle, and thus shall have sown in the spirit, shall reap of the same spirit the harvest of eternal and incorruptible life.

After having exhorted those, who received instruction in religion, to contribute liberally towards the support of their teachers, he, in this verse, exhorts all Christians to the performance of good works. In this manner he employs the familiar metaphors of the seed and the harvest. He looks upon the “flesh” and “the Spirit,” or the Holy Ghost, as fields in which seeds of a different kind are deposited, from which a crop of the same kind shall spring. “In the flesh … in the spirit,” are read in the Greek, εὶς τὴν σάρκα … εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα, into the flesh … into the spirit.

Gal 6:9  And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.

But in performing good works, let us unceasingly persevere; for, we shall reap the fruit of our good works, in due time, provided we cease not, but persevere.

According to the Vulgate, we are exhorted in this verse to persevere in the performance of good works. “Let us not fail.” We are told, that perseverance is a necessary condition for eternal life. According to the Greek, we are recommended to perform good works with cheerful alacrity, not becoming faint-hearted; because we shall in due time reap the fruit of our good works for a never-ending duration. “Not failing,” may mean in the Greek, “not relaxing” (from fatigue).

Gal 6:10  Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Wherefore, whilst the present life, the seed-time for good works, lasts, let us do good towards all mankind, but let us make the faithful fellow-members of the Church, the special objects of our benevolence.

“Whilst we have time,” i.e., during the present life; for “the night shall come, when no man can work.”—(John, 9:4).

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 3:16-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of Galatians chapter 3, followed by his notes on verses 16-22. Text in purple represents his paraphrasing of the Scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 3

In this chapter, the Apostle, after having conveyed in feeling terms, a mild, paternal rebuke, to the Galatians (verse 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 (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 (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 (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 (11, 12).

He shows how we are freed from the malediction entailed by the law (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 (15, 16). From these arguments he concludes that we are justified by Christ, or rather by faith in him, and not by the law (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 (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 (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 (22), and also that it prepared us for the promise, by restraining us from manifest transgressions (23). The law held the same relation to the promise, that the pedagogue does to the preceptor (24). But now its office ceases; hence, abrogated, as being useless (25). The Galatians arrived at once at full grown spiritual existence; and, did not, therefore, require the magisterial discipline of the pedagogue (26). He points out the magnitude of the blessings conferred on them in justification.

Gal 3:16  To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds as of many. But as of one: And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Now, God repeatedly made his promise of real justice and eternal inheritance to Abraham and to his seed, which word, “seed,” is expressed in the singular number, in order the more clearly to mark out the individual through whom the promise was primarily made to Abraham, and in whom it was to be fulfilled.

“He saith not, and to his seeds.” Looking to mere human reasoning, it is not easy to see the force of the Apostle’s argument founded on the use of the word, “seed,” in the singular number, “seed” being a collective term. All we can say is, that according to the Holy Spirit, speaking through St. Paul in this passage—the same by whom Moses was inspired—the word “seed,” was used in Genesis, in the singular number, for the purpose of designating the descendant of Abraham, viz., Christ in whom the promises were to be fulfilled. Hence, we can say, that the argument of the Apostle, founded on the use of the word “seed” in the singular number by Moses in the Book of Genesis, derives weight more from an authentic interpretation (which is given by the Apostle under the influence of inspiration) of the words of Genesis, than from strict human reasoning.

Gal 3:17  Now this I say: that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect.

This, therefore, is my conclusion. Whereas, even amongst men, there are compacts of such stability, as to be unchangeable, viz., last wills and testaments, it cannot be questioned, that the compacts of God, when absolute and unconditional, are no less firm; hence, the promise or testament made by God, founded on the death of Christ, and transmitting to man an eternal inheritance, cannot be voided in its fulfilment, by a law promulgated four hundred and thirty years after it.

“This I say,” i.e., this is my conclusion. “That the testament.” &c. The word “testament,” in this verse, means the same thing, as “promises made to Abraham,” in verse 16, and the word “promises,” is used in the plural, because the one promise was repeatedly made, or the same thing was repeatedly promised, and this promise may be fairly classed with what, humanly speaking, we call testaments; both because of its stability—and this founded on the death of Christ—as also, because it transmits an inheritance. This promise, repeatedly made (“promises,” verse 16), or “testament,” is to be fulfilled in Christ. It had for object, the giving through him of justice to Abraham and his spiritual posterity, “Which was made after four hundred and thirty years,” &c.; these four hundred and thirty years are to be computed from the time at which the promise was made to Abraham, to the time of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. “Confirmed by God,” In the common Greek, confirmed before by God unto Christ. “Before.” means, previous to the law. The words unto Christ, are not in the Alexandrian or Vatican MSS.

Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise.

And that the promise would be rendered void and be destroyed by the Law, is quite clear, because if the inheritance came through the Law, it could be no longer from the promise; which latter assertion is by no means true, for, it was through a gratuitous promise that God’s benediction to Abraham was to come.

If the inheritance were from the law, it could be no longer from the promise. Because the law carries with it certain conditions of an onerous nature; it is reciprocal in its engagements; whereas, the promise is supposed to be quite gratuitous, absolute, and unchangeable on the part of God. Again, the inheritance coming through the law would be less extensive than that coming through the promise; because, the latter would comprise all the nations and tribes of the earth: whereas, the former would be necessarily confined to the Jewish people.

Gal 3:19  Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

The object of the Law then, what was it? The object of the Law was to restrain, or increase the trangressions of the Jewish people, and that merely for a time, until the seed to whom the promise was made, should come (whereas the promise was given without limitation to any time—to be accomplished in all nations—to the end of the world). The Law was arranged by angels, by whom it was given, inscribed on tablets of stone—(whereas, the promise was made by God himself). The Law was promulgated by the ministry of a mediator, Moses, who told the people, I was the mediator and stood between the Lord and you.—(Deut 5:5).

“It was set.” For “set,” the Greek has, προσετεθη, superadded. The Vulgate reading, which followed ετεθη, appears the more probable. “Because of transgressions.” This may either mean, that the law had for object, to restrain and manifest trangressions, or, in a secondary sense, to increase them, so that men, seeing their own weakness and inability, would be shown the source to which they should recur for justification.—(See Paraphrase). This latter interpretation accords well with the context, and with verse 21. “Until the seed should come,” points out the term or duration of the Law. After having pointed out the object of the law, the Apostle proceeds to point out its leading characteristics, and the peculiar points of disparity-between it and the promise. The characters of the promise he leaves to be inferred from the contrast and implied antithesis with the expressed characters of the Law. The Law was “ordained by angels,” and promulgated by the ministry of a “mediator,” Moses. From which we infer that the promise was not “ordained by angels”; having been ordained by God himself, and made by himself directly and immediately to Abraham.—(Genesis, 18:17). And as for a mediator, no such thing could be admitted in the promise, as is shown in next verse.

Gal 3:20  Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one.

Now, in the case of the promise, a mediato could not be admitted, because a mediator supposes two parties at least, in a covenant, between whom mediation could take place; but, when there is question of a matter where only one party is concerned, no such thing can be admitted. In the fulfilment of the promise, God is the only party concerned; for, it was absolute and gratuitous, carrying with it all the aid necessary for its fulfilment.

It is by no means easy to arrive, with any degree of probability, at the meaning of this obscure passage, regarding which a great many perplexed interpretations and conjectures have been advanced by the several Commentators. The interpretation preferred in the Paraphrase, appears, of all others, to accord best with the context; it may be more fully developed thus:—The evident design of the Apostle in this verse is to show, that In the case of the promise through which the inheritance was to come rather than through the Law (verse 18), no mediator could be admitted, as in the case of the Law (verse 19). Why? Because, when there is but one party to a covenant, when an absolute, gratuitous promise is made by one party to another, a promise entailing no conditions for its fulfilment, which the promise itself does not contain, there is but one party concerned in it, viz., the promising party; and hence, there can be no mediator; for, this implies two parties between whom the office of mediator is to be discharged.—(“A mediator is not of one.”) Now between God and Abraham there was a purely gratuitous promise regarding the inheritance to be given to him and his posterity—a promise absolute in its nature, requiring no conditions which were not involved in the promise itself—for, it carried with it the aids and helps required for self-fulfilment. There was then but one party, viz., God (“But God is one”), and hence, no mediator, as in the case of the Law, which was an onerous contract, requiring on the part of the legislator and the subjects certain conditions, and establishing certain reciprocal relations.

Other Interpreters, conceiving the exclusion of a mediator in the case of the promise to have reference to the person to whom the promise was made, explain the words thus:—The promise made to Abraham, was primarily made to him through Christ, the promised seed. “To Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed,” (verse 16). But the party promising, and the party to whom the promise was made, are not, in that case, different. “But God is one.” Hence, no mediator, as in the case of the Law. The former interpretation, in which a mediator is excluded by the nature of the promise itself, appears to be more in accordance with the context. For, all along, and especially in verse (18), the Apostle lays great stress on the gratuitous nature of the promise made by God to Abraham.

Gal 3:21  Was the law then against the promises of God: God forbid! For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law.

If then the Law had the effect of manifesting, or, of increasing man’s transgressions, is it not opposed to the promises of God? By no means; if, on the contrary, the law had the opposite effect of vivifying and producing justice, it would then be really opposed to the promise, since justice would then be really from the Law; and hence, the inheritance would not come from the promise.

From the words, “being ordained by angels,” &c., exclusively, verse 19, to this verse, may be regarded as introduced incidentally, and as having no direct bearing on the argument of the Apostle. “The promises of God.” The words “of God,” have a very emphatic meaning, implying that the promises rested immediately on God, without supposing a mediator. The question here proposed regarding the opposition between the Law and the promise is put by way of objection, grounded on the observation made by the Apostle, that they could not co-exist. Are they then really opposed? By no means. The Law ceases now, because it is useless, and cannot confer justice. If it really conferred justice, it would then be opposed to the promise, which it would render useless.

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, omnia, all mankind The neuter is employed to denote the more general extension and comprehensiveness of the assertion.

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