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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 6 - Verse 18
Verse 18. Brethren, the grace, etc.
INGENIOUS CONJECTURE ON PAUL'S THORN IN THE FLESH
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure."—
"And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as angel of God,, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me."—Ga 4:14,15.
ST. PAUL'S infirmity was one well known in hot climates, a chronical ophthalmia. Hence he was what is called "blear-eyed," and was often perhaps obliged to wear a shade. It made his personal appearance mean; it was a visible infirmity in his flesh; it hindered his usefulness, and therefore he besought the Lord anxiously that it might depart from him. It made it, for the most part, painful and difficult to write; hence he generally employed an amanuensis, and regarded it as a great matter when he used his own pen. The calling it "a messenger of Satan" is perfectly consistent with its being a bodily disease. Satan, in fifty places, is represented as the immediate author of corporeal defects and maladies. It is quite probable that the heavenly visions, or the supernatural light which blinded him at his conversion, might have left a weakness and disease in the organs immediately affected; and, unless the miracle which restored Paul to sight removed also a natural secondary defect of the temporary injury the organs had received, there must have been a predisposition afterwards to the complaint which he seems to have had. The metaphor by which St. Paul describes his infirmity is also worthy of notice, as having much weight. The pain of ophthalmia, when severe, exactly resembles the prick of a thorn or pin, and leaves its subsequent effect for years. As thorns in the eyes are figuratively used for troubles and temptations, (see Nu 33:55; Jos 23:13, if this metaphor had an affinity with the actual bodily sensations of the apostle, it was natural he should think of it and use it. But the strongest argument rests upon Ga 4:15 after praising them for not despising his "fleshly infirmity," he subjoins, "I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have PLUCKED OUT YOUR OWN EYES, AND HAVE GIVEN THEM TO ME." How natural this context on this hypothesis! How little so on any other! But, if the apostle was speaking of diseased eyes, which made his aspect unsightly, and prevented perhaps much of the natural effect of his preaching, to which they nevertheless respectfully listened, and with affectionate sympathy did all they could for his comfort and relief, how natural, how appropriate, this grateful close of the encomium—"In your generous and tender sympathy, you would have plucked out your own sound eyes, and have transferred them to my use!"—JAMES STEPHEN, ESQ., from the Life of Mrs. Hannah More, added here by the EDITOR.
EMINENT WRITERS ON THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS
LUTHER On the Epistle to the Galatians is "a strong antidote against the popish notion of justification by works."
FERGUSON'S Brief Exposition of the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, small 8vo, is a very pious and "uncommonly sensible" work. It bears date, Edinburgh, 1659.
CHANDLER'S "Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians; with Doctrinal and Practical Observations, together with a Critical and Practical Commentary on the two Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians." This work has some valuable critical remarks; but the great doctrine inculcated by the apostle is coldly treated, and the whole bears the characteristic marks of an Arian author.
LOCKE's Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians. "This work," says Orem, "contains much important truth, and some very considerable errors. Locke read St. Paul with great attention, and yet missed his meaning on some leading subjects. His ideas of the person of Christ, of the doctrine of justification by faith, and the character and privileges of the Christian church, are grossly erroneous. But, apart from his theological errors, his work possesses very considerable merit."
WINER's Commentary on the Galatians is translated from the German by the Rev. W. Cunningham, and forms a part of the Edinburgh Biblical Cabinet. It is reckoned "a valuable work."—
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