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Verse 8. Howbeit. But, alla. The address in this verse and the following is evidently to the portion of the Galatians who had been heathen. This is probably indicated by the particle alla, but, denoting a transition. In the previous verses Paul had evidently had the Jewish converts more particularly in his eye, and had described their former condition as one of servitude to the Mosaic rites and customs, and had shown the inconveniences of that condition, compared with the freedom imparted by the gospel. To complete the description, he refers also to the Gentiles, as a condition of worse servitude still, and shows Ga 4:9 the absurdity of their turning back to a state of bondage of any kind after the glorious deliverance which they had obtained from the degrading servitude of pagan rites. The sense is, "If the Jews were in such a state of servitude, how much more galling and severe was that of those who had been heathens. Yet from that servitude the gospel had delivered them, and made them freemen. How absurd now to go back to a state of vassalage, and to become servants under the oppressive rites of the Jewish law!"

When ye knew not God. In your state of heathenism, what you had no knowledge of the true God and of his service. The object, is not to apologize for what they did, because they did not know God; it is to state the fact that they were in a state of gross and galling servitude.

Ye did service. This does not express the force of the original. The meaning is, "Ye were slaves to edouleusate you were in a condition of servitude, as opposed to the freedom of the gospel." Compare Ga 4:3, where the same word is used to describe the state of the Jews. The drift of the apostle is, to show that the Jews and Gentiles, before their conversion to Christianity, were in a state of vassalage or servitude, and that it was absurd in the highest degree to return to that condition again.

Unto them which by nature are no gods. Idols, or false gods. The expression "by nature," fusei, according to Grotius, means, in fact, re ipsa. The sense is, that they really had no pretensions to divinity. Many of them were imaginary beings; many were the objects of creation, as the sun, and winds, and streams; and many were departed heroes that had been exalted to be objects of worship. Yet the servitude was real. It fettered their faculties; controlled their powers; bound their imagination; and commanded their time and property, and made them slaves. Idolatry is always slavery; and the servitude of sinners to their passions and appetites, to lust, and gold, and ambition, is not less galling and severe than was the servitude to the pagan gods or the Jewish rites, or than is the servitude of the African now to a harsh and cruel master. Of all Christians it may be said that before their conversion they "did service," or were slaves to harsh and cruel masters; and nothing but the gospel has made them free. It may be added, that the chains of idolatry all over the world are as fast riveted and as galling as they were in Galatia; and that nothing but the same gospel which Paul preached there can break those chains, and restore man to freedom.

{+} "Howbeit then" "However at that time" {*} "them" "Ye saved those"

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