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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 10
Verse 10. For do I now persuade men, or God? The word "now" arti is used here, evidently, to express a contrast between his present and his former purpose of life. Before his conversion to Christianity, he impliedly admits, that it was his object to conciliate the favour of men; that he derived his authority from them, Ac 9:1,2; that he endeavoured to act so as to please them and gain their good esteem. But now he says, this was not his object. He had a higher aim. It was to please God, and to conciliate his favour. The object of this verse is obscure; but it seems to me to be connected with what follows, and to be designed to introduce that by showing that he had not now received his commission from men, but had received it from God. Perhaps there may be an allusion to an implied allegation in regard to him. It may have been alleged, (see Notes on the previous verses,) that even he had changed his mind, and was now himself an observer of the laws of Moses. To this perhaps he replies, by this question, that such conduct would not have been inconsistent, in his view, when it was his main purpose to please men, and when he derived his commission from them; but that now he had a higher aim. His purpose was to please God; and he was not aiming in any way to gratify men. The word which is rendered "persuade" here, peiyw, has been very variously interpreted. Tindal renders it, "Seek now the favour of men or of God?" Doddridge, "Do I now solicit the favour of men or of God ?" This also is the interpretation of Grotius, Hammond, Elsner, Koppe, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, etc., and is undoubtedly the true explanation. The word properly means to persuade, or to convince, Ac 18:4; Ac 28:23; 2 Co 5:11. But it also means, to bring over to kind feelings, to conciliate, to pacify, to quiet. Sept., 1 Sa 24:8 2 Mac. 4:25; Ac 12:20; 1 Jo 3:19. By the question here, Paul means to say, that his great object was now to please God. He desired his favour rather than the favour of man. He acted with reference to his will. He derived his authority from him, and not from the sanhedrim or any earthly council. And the purpose of all this is to say, that he had not received his commission to preach from man, but had received it directly from God.
Or do I seek to please men? It is not my aim or purpose to please men, and to conciliate their favour. Comp. 1 Th 2:4.
For if I yet pleased men. If I made it my aim to please men; if this was the regulating principle of my conduct. The word "yet" here eti, has reference to his former purpose. It implies that this had once been his aim. But he says, if he had pursued that purpose to please men, if this had continued to be the aim of his life, he would not now have been a servant of Christ. He had been constrained to abandon that purpose, in order that he might be a servant of Christ; and the sentiment is, that in order that a man may become a Christian, it is necessary for him to abandon the purpose of pleasing men as the rule of his life. It may be implied also, that if in fact a man makes it his aim to please men, or if this is the purpose for which he lives and acts, and if he shapes his conduct with reference to that, he cannot be a Christian or a servant of Christ. A Christian must act from higher motives than those, and he who aims supremely at the favour of his fellow-men has full evidence that he is not a Christian. A friend of Christ must do his duty, and must regulate his conduct by the will of God, whether men are pleased with it or not. And it may be further implied, that the life and deportment of a sincere Christian will not please men. It is not that which they love. A holy, humble, spiritual life they do not love. It is true, indeed, that their consciences tell them that such a life is right; that they are often constrained to speak well of the life of Christians, and to commend it; it is true that they are constrained to respect a man who is a sincere Christian, and that they often repose confidence in such a man; and it is true also that they often speak with respect of them when they are dead; but the life of an humble, devoted, and zealous Christian they do not love. It is contrary to their views of life. And especially if a Christian so lives and acts as to reprove them either by his words or by his life; or if a Christian makes his religion so prominent as to interfere with their pursuits or pleasures, they do not love it. It follows from this,
(1.) that a Christian is not to expect to please men. He must not be disappointed, therefore, if he does not. His Master did not please the world; and it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master.
(2.) A professing Christian, and especially a minister, should be alarmed when the world flatters and caresses him. He should fear either
(a) that he is not living as he ought to, and that sinners love him because he is so much like them, and keeps them in countenance; or
(b) that they mean to make him betray his religion and become conformed to them. It is a great point gained for the gay world, when it can, by its caresses and attentions, get a Christian to forsake a prayer-meeting for a party, or surrender his deep spirituality to engage in some political project. "Woe unto you," said the Redeemer, "when all men speak well of you," Lu 6:26.
(3.) One of the main differences between Christians and the world is, that others aim to please men; the Christian aims to please God. And this is a great difference.
(4.) It follows that if men would become Christians, they must cease to make it their object to please men. They must be willing to be met with contempt and a frown; they must be willing to be persecuted and despised; they must be willing to lay aside all hope of the praise and the flattery of men, and be content with an honest effort to please God.
(5.) True Christians must differ from the world. Their aims, feelings, purposes must be unlike the world. They are to be a peculiar people; and they should be willing to be esteemed such. It does not follow, however, that a true Christian should not desire the good esteem of the world, or that he should be indifferent to an honourable reputation, (1 Ti 3:7;) nor does it follow that a consistent Christian will not often command the respect of the world. In times of trial, the world will repose confidence in Christians; when any work of benevolence is to be done, the world will instinctively look to Christians; and notwithstanding, sinners will not love religion, yet they will secretly feel assured that some of the brightest ornaments of society are Christians, and that they have a claim to the confidence and esteem of their fellow-men.
The servant of Christ. A Christian.
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