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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2


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 (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 (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 (8–10). He expresses his fears regarding them (11), and exhorts them to follow his own example in neglecting Jewish ceremonies (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 (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 (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 (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 (26, 27). He applies the allegory, in the three following verses.


1. Now, what I mean to say is this: As long as an heir is in his minority, he, in no respect, differs from a servant, whether as to personal-control, or the administration of property, although he be, at the same time, the rightful owner and master of all his goods.

2. But he is subject to guardians of his education, and managers of his property, up to the lime fixed by his father in his will, or determined by law.

3. So also, we Jews, although heirs to the promises of Abraham, but still in our infant minority, were restrained within the bounds of duty under the material or corporeal elements of the law of Moses.

4. But, after the term of this minority, and the time fixed upon by the heavenly Father had fully expired, God sent on earth his Son, formed of the substance of woman, and born of her, and, of his own free will, subject to the law of Moses.

5. For the purpose of emancipating, by purchase, from the thraldom and servitude of the law, those who were subject to it, and of making us the adopted sons of God, and heirs of the promise, by right of adoption.

6. And that you, Galatians, have obtained the adoption of sons of God, is rendered clear by the strong impulse of the Spirit of his Son, whom he sent into your hearts, causing you to call upon him with filial confidence as “Abba,” that is to say, “Father.”

7. Wherefore, there is no longer among you a slave; you are all full-grown adult sons. But if you are sons, then you are also heirs of the promised inheritance through Christ.

8. But, formerly, in your Pagan, Infidel state, you worshipped and served idols, and false gods, who were in reality no gods at all, and were regarded as such only by the fiction of men, not knowing the true God, the Sovereign Maker of Heaven and Earth.

9. But now, after having been favoured, through the goodness of Christ, with the knowledge of the true God, or, it should have rather been said, after having been known and loved by him, as children; how is it possible, that you can again return to the first elements of Jewish infancy, which are both weak, as possessing no power to confer justification: and needy, because destitute of grace; under which you again wish to serve?

10. Among the many instances of your submission to the first elements of Jewish infancy, may be quoted your exact observance of festival days, both weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual.

11. On this account I fear for you, lest perhaps your past labours may have become for you vain and fruitless.

12. In order to remove all grounds for such fears, imitate me in neglecting Jewish ceremonies; for, I have been, like you, in error regarding them, having been ardently zealous in their defence. Do not, I beseech you, brethren, regard these things as spoken in a spirit of bitterness—for, you have not done me the slightest personal injury; and, hence, you have given me no provocation, no cause whatever for such feelings.

13. On the contrary, you know full well, that, when on a former occasion I preached the Gospel to you in a slate of such bodily wretchedness and misery, as might serve as a temptation for you to reject and despise me;

14. Far from rejecting or despising me, you received me with open arms, as you would an angel of God, even as Jesus Christ himself.

15. Where now is that expression of happiness which you testified at my advent amongst you? For, I can bear witness regarding you, that, if nature permitted it, and if it in any way served me, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.

16. Am I, then, to be held by you in hatred and aversion for announcing to you, without disguise or reserve, the naked truth?

17. But these feelings of aversion with which you regard me, have their true source in the wiles of the false teachers, who express the greatest zeal for you—a zeal, however, which has no existence, or which is not exercised for your welfare; since their real aim is to exclude you from the Church, and the liberty of the Gospel, in order that you, in turn, would show your zeal for them, by becoming instrumental in promoting their ostentatious glory, or, by becoming their factious adherents.

18. You should always show your zeal for a good teacher, such as I am myself, by your love and imitation of him in good things, and that constantly, not only in his presence, but in his absence also.

19. My little children, whom I love with the tender affection of a mother for her offspring, for whom she would a second time undergo the throes of childbirth, until the faith of Christ is again formed in you.

20. Would that I were present amongst you at this moment, in order that I might be able to change my tone, and accommodate myself to your dispositions, with which, owing to my absence, I cannot be fully acquainted. Hence, the hesitation and perplexity with which I now address you.

21. Answer me, you who wish to be under the Law: Have you not read the Law, and heard its teachings?—(It transfers you from itself to Christ).

22. 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.

23. 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).

24. 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.

25. Sina was a fit place to originate this covenant of fear; for, it is a mountain in Arabia, outside the confines of the Promised Land, and of an aspect so rugged and frightful as to inspire the beholders with fear; hence, it aptly gives rise to the covenant which begets slaves, strangers to the promised inheritance. It bears to the present earthly Jerusalem, the near relation of signification; and this Jerusalem, or Agar, in a representative capacity, is under the servitude of the Mosaic Law with her children.

26. 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.

27. 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.

28. (First application of the allegory).—We, brethren, like Isaac, the second born, are also like him the children of the promise, to the exclusion of the first born, the Jews.

29. (Second application).—But, as Ismael, who was born according to the course of nature, persecuted in his day, Isaac, the child of spiritual promise, so also do the Jews of the present day, of whom Ismael was the type and figure, persecute the Christians, the heirs of Abraham’s promises, represented in Isaac.

30. (But the third and principal application of the allegory consists in this, and is fulfilled in the Jews).—As by the command of God sanctioning the wish of Sara, the bond-woman and her son were cast out and excluded from the inheritance; so are the Jews now, when under the bondage of the Law, excluded from the promises of Abraham.

31. 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.


1. “Now I say,” i.e., what I have been already referring to, amounts to this. The Apostle reverts to the idea of the “pedagogue,” referred to in verse 24 of preceding chapter, and more fully enlarges on it, and applies it in these verses. “Is a child,” i.e., a minor.

2. “Until the time appointed by the father,” i.e., until the term of minority fixed upon by his father in his will, or determined by law, expires.

3. He here applies the foregoing illustration:—“So we also;” that is, the Jews, with whom the Apostle associates himself. “When we were children,” both in knowledge of religion—for they understood not the meaning of the signs and ceremonies which they practised—as also in their affections, for they had regard for temporal goods only. “Were serving,” i.e., kept in the service of God solely from motives of fear.

“Under the elements of the world,” τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κοσμου, that is, under the law of Moses, which was composed of sensible rites and ceremonies, the meaning, or ultimate reference of which, the Jews understood no better than the infant does the alphabetical elements of knowledge.

4. The Jews attained their spiritual majority at the time of the coming of Christ. “Made of a woman;” shows the mode in which the Incarnation took place, and the human nature of Christ. “Made under,” i.e., voluntarily subject to the law of Moses. This shows he was not only true man, but also a true member of the Jewish nation.

5. “That he might redeem.” The Greek word, ἐξαγοράση, means, to purchase. “That we might receive,” &c. He speaks of the Jews, with whom he associates himself in the first person, “we.” He was himself of Jewish origin, as being a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin.

6. He addresses the Galatians in the second person:—“And because you are sons of God.” That the Galatians, as well as the other Gentile converts, were not to go through this preparatory course of magisterial discipline, but that they had been introduced at once, and asserted into the glorious sonship of God, they had a clear proof from the dictates of the Spirit of Christ, urging them to call on him, with filial confidence, as father. For the meaning of the words, “Abba”—“Father” (see chap. 8 to the Romans). The meaning attached to the word “because,” in the Paraphrase, is the more probable. It signifies “that.” The strong impulse of the Holy Ghost impelling them to call on God with confidence, is given as a proof that they were not slaves, but full-grown children of God. The words, “the Spirit of his Son,” show the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son as well as from the Father, which was denied by the Greeks.

7. “Therefore, he is not now a servant,” &c. For which the Greek, which Estius prefers, is, οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος, thou art no more a servant, &c. According to this reading the words are addressed to the Galatians in the second person, and in the singular number, for the sake of greater emphasis. This verse expresses a conclusion drawn from the foregoing. The Vulgate reading, as explained in the Paraphrase—Therefore there is no longer among you, after your regeneration, a slave, but you are all full-grown sons, &c., does not differ in sense from the Greek. “An heir also through God.” The common Greek is, an heir of God through Christ. The Vulgate reading is that of the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS.

8. By sayings they are “now” no more slaves, he implies that a time was, when they were so; and that they were involved in a worse description of slavery than the Jews, since they were serving false gods, who, in reality, were no gods at all, being regarded as such only by the fiction of men. There was, however, in their former conduct one extenuating circumstance—they did so in ignorance, “not knowing God.”

9. But their conduct now admitted of no such extenuation. They returned again to servitude, “after knowing God, and being known by him,” which latter words are understood by some to mean, after having been taught by him. He says, “how turn you again?” &c. Not that they were before subject to the Jewish ceremonies, but because the idolatrous practices, in which they were involved, resembled the Jewish ceremonies in this respect, that both were an unlawful servitude for the Galatians, who were Gentile converts. The word “again,” is used, then, in reference to an illicit servitude, but of a different kind in two cases—Jewish ceremonies, in one case; and Paganism, in the other.

10. He particularises one of the “weak and needy elements” of Jewish infancy referred to in the preceding verse—viz., their observance of Jewish Festivals. “You observe,” παρατηρεισθε, i.e., you accurately observe, “days,” i.e., Sabbath days, and the like, after the manner of the Jews. “Months,” i.e., new moons and the seventh month, which was almost all sacred among the Jews. “Times.” Stated festivals for the four seasons of the year—viz., Pasch, Pentecost, Expiation, and Encænia. “Years,” i.e., the seventh year of remission and the fiftieth of jubilee.

11. He expresses his solicitude and apostolic concern for their salvation. He says, “perhaps,” to show that he does not utterly despair of their perseverance in the faith, which he had planted amongst them.

12. “I also am as you.” These words are understood by some, as in the Paraphrase, to mean—Imitate me in casting away the legal ceremonies; for, I laboured under the same error formerly regarding their necessity, that you labour under at present. According to others, they mean—Follow my example in rejecting the Jewish ceremonies; for, although a Jew, I became like you, by accommodating myself, as far as it was allowable, to the manners of the Gentiles, so that I might gain them to Christ. This latter interpretation accords well with his words to the Corinthians—“I became all things to all men, that I might save all.”—(1 Cor. chap. 9 verse 22).

“You have not injured me at all.” He now endeavours to guard against the suspicion of having been influenced by feelings of bitterness in his former rebuke, and shows that he could entertain no such feeling towards them, since they had done him no personal injury whatever.

13. On the contrary, they received him with open arms, when he appeared among them on a former occasion, in a lowly, contemptible condition, which would serve as a temptation to them to reject him. The words, “and your temptation in my flesh,” in the common Greek, runs thus, πειρασμον μου τον εν τη σαρκι μου—and my temptation which teas in my flesh. The Vulgate reading is supported by the chief MSS., πειρασμον ὑμων, your temptation. There will be no difference between the common Greek and the Vulgate reading, if “temptation” be understood of the object of temptation—viz., himself, whom they might be tempted to reject, owing to the lowly state in which he presented himself, preaching the Gospel. The words, “and your temptation,” &c., are governed by the words of next verse—“You despised not, nor rejected.”

14. They received him as they would an angel, &c. Hence, he could have no cause whatever for angry or imbittered feelings against them.

15. “Where, then, is your blessedness?” For which the reading in the common Greek text is, τις οὖν ὁ μακαρισμος ὑμῶν—how great, then, was your blessedness. The Vatican MS. supports the Vulgate, που οῦν μακαρισμος ὑμῶν—“where then your blessedness?” Our reading is most likely the correct one, and the common Greek reading a misprint, which might have been easily occasioned by the similarity in both readings. Their happiness, then, at having such a teacher was so great, that there was nothing they possessed, be it ever so dear, which they would not have given him. They would have plucked out their very eyes and given them to him, if it were allowed, or if it could have served him. “You would have plucked—and would have given,” &c., runs thus in the Greek: “having plucked out your own eyes, you would have given,” &c.

16. “Am I, then, your enemy?” &c. The Apostle did not announce to the Galatians all the truths of Christian faith; and among the truths which, from motives of apostolic prudence, he withheld from them, was that regarding the inutility of the Mosaic ceremonies.

17. “They,” i.e., the false teachers, “are zealous in your regard,” &c.; ζηλοῦσιν ὑμᾶς i.e., they pay court to you from an anxious desire to gain you over to their party. He attributes the change of feeling which the Galatians had undergone towards him, to the seductive wiles and influence of the false teachers. “Not well,” may either mean, that the zeal of the false teachers was not real, or, that it had not their welfare in view. “That you might be zealous for them,” i.e., to induce you to become their factious adherents and supporters.

18. “For that which is good,” might be more correctly translated, for him that is good, or a good teacher. But this zealous imitation and defence of him are to be confined to good actions, and that “always,” not only in his presence, but also in his absence. The whole verse runs thus in the ordinary Greek: καλον δε το ζηλουσθαι εν καλῷ παντοτε, it is good to be always zealous for a good thing, or for a good person. The Codex Vaticanus has the imperative. καλον δε ζηλουσθε, but be zealous, &c., as in the Vulgate.

19. The tender parental affection which the Apostle expresses in this verse for the Galatians, shows the troubles and sorrow of mind he must have felt for their salvation. He had already given them a new spiritual birth in the faith; but, as they erred from the faith, he longs again, with painful anxiety and concern, to bring them back, which he terms, a second parturition.

20. “Because I am ashamed for you,” i.e., I am confounded and perplexed about the tone in which I am to address you. The Greek words mean, απορουμαι εν ὑμιν, I am perplexed regarding you. What a lesson is here given by the Apostle to all those who, like him, are engaged in the gospel ministry—with what zeal does he labour to gain over his spiritual children to Christ. At one time entreating them; at another, weeping over them; at one time rebuking them; at another, imploring them. Like him, they should frequently express the feelings of parental affection, sorrow, and uneasiness, which they entertain for their people, and accommodate, as far as possible, their language to their feelings and dispositions. Like a tender mother, they should endeavour to beget Christ in the minds of their hearers.

21. The Apostle now undertakes to prove that the Jews were to be rejected from the Church and its inheritance; and, of course, he leaves it to be inferred that the Galatians, by attending to the instructions of the false teachers, were to be involved in the like misfortune. He confutes the Galatians from the very Law to which they were subjecting themselves. “Have you not read the law?” The Greek is, τον νομον ουκ ακουετε—do you not hear the Law? i.e., the teaching of the Law—as if he said, if you will not attend to me, attend to the very Law to which you wish to subject yourselves. By “the Law,” is meant the Old Testament, and not merely the Books of Moses, as some interpreters would have it.

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

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

24. Which things are said by allegory; literally, ἅτινα ὲστιν ἀλληγορούμενα, 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.

25. He says that Sina was a fit place to give rise to this covenant of fear and servitude, both on account of its position in Arabia, outside the confines of the Land of Promise, and its appearance, which was calculated to inspire the beholders with a feeling of awe. It was, therefore, a fit place to originate a covenant which engenders slaves, who are strangers to the promised inheritance.

“Which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is.” The affinity referred to is not local proximity; for, Sina and Jerusalem are very far asunder; but an affinity in signification (a meaning admitted by the corresponding Greek word, συστοιχει, which literally means, “to stand in the same rank and file with”), because Jerusalem is the seat of the Law and of the covenant promulgated on Sina. And as the Jews of old imbibed the spirit of servile fear, when they received the Law at the foot of Mount Sina, so are the Jews of the present day—the children of the present earthly Jerusalem—slaves in like manner.

“Jerusalem which now is,” refers to the earthly Jerusalem, because in the following verse (26), it is opposed to “the Jerusalem which is above.”

“And is in bondage with her children.” These words are referred by some interpreters to Jerusalem, by others to Agar (verse 24), of course in a representative capacity; and then, the meaning is the same. Both interpretations are given in the Paraphrase. The latter construction is authorized by certain editions of the Bible, in which the first part of this verse is read within a parenthesis, thus: (“for Sina is a mountain: … now is Jerusalem”) “and is in bondage with her children.” These latter words are, of course, in this reading, referred to “Agar” in the preceding verse. The same is warranted by the Greek reading, which is different from the Vulgate, and runs thus: τὸ γὰρ Ἄγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Αραβἰᾳ, for this Agar is Mount Sina in Arabia, &c. The Codex Vaticanus has τὸ δε Ἄγαρ, &c., but this Agar, &c., the meaning of which is, “this (word) Agar signifies Mount Sinai among the Arabians.” The Syriac version is the same. According to both Greek and Syriac readings, a reason is given from the very terms, why Agar should represent the Old Testament; because, Agar was a provincial name among the Arabians, for Mount Sina, where the covenant was established and promulgated. This is the interpretation of the Greek commentators, among the rest, of St. Chrysostom and Theophylact. The Vulgate reading is, however, the more probable, as is admitted even by Beza. It is found in several MSS., and in the Latin Fathers generally. “And is in bondage,” &c. And this Jerusalem or Agar, is in bondage with her children, as the children always follow the condition of the mother; partus sequitur ventrem. The “bondage” refers to the servitude of the Mosaic Law.

26. 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.

27. 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?

RESP.—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.

28. In this verse, the Apostle begins to apply the allegory to his purpose. “Now we,” he speaks in the person of the faithful. “As Isaac was, we also are, the children of promise;” “born not of the will of man, nor of blood, but of God.”—(John chap. 1). In this verse, is the first application of the allegory, and from it the Apostle wishes the Galatians to conclude, that, as children of promise, and born of the free-woman, they should no longer be under the servitude of the law, like the sons of the bond-woman.

29. Second application.—(See Paraphrase). “Persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit.” It is merely said in Genesis, chap. 21, to which allusion is made here, “that Sara saw the son of Agar playing with Isaac.” However, this word “playing,” may be taken to signify bodily injury, or some spiritual temptation. There is a great diversity of opinion respecting the meaning of the Hebrew word, motsēk, which the Septuagint renders, παιζοντα, “playing.” Some understand it to mean physical violence, in which sense the word is used (Gen. 39:14). Others, mocking him, as St. Augustine understands it (Sermon, de Agar et Ismaele), lusio illa illusio erat. St. Jerome understands it to mean a contentious struggle arising from the jealousy respecting the rights of primogeniture, which the rejoicings, on the occasion of the weaning of Isaac, gave Ismael grounds for suspecting to be intended for his younger brother. This conduct of Ismael was naturally viewed by Sara with jealousy; and hence, as Agar did not prevent it, both she and her son were turned out of doors.

30. In this verse is the principal application of the allegory intended by the Apostle. For, the allegory is introduced for the purpose of showing the Galatians, that, in making them submit to the Jewish ceremonies, the false teachers were excluding them from the inheritance promised to the children of faith, just as the bond-woman and her son were excluded from the inheritance of Abraham, by the command of God sanctioning the wish of Sara.

31. “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.

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