[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Galatians: Chapter 4)

4:1 {So long as} (\eph' hoson chronon\). "For how long a time,"
incorporation of the antecedent (\chronon\) into the relative
clause. {The heir} (\ho klēronomos\). Old word (\klēros\, lot,
\nemomai\, to possess)
. Illustration from the law of inheritance
carrying on the last thought in 3:29. {A child} (\nēpios\). One
that does not talk (\nē, epos\, word). That is a minor, an
infant, immature intellectually and morally in contrast with
\teleioi\, full grown (1Co 3:1; 14:20; Php 3:15; Eph 4:13).
{From a bondservant} (\doulou\). Slave. Ablative case of
comparison after \diapherei\ for which verb see on ¯Mt 6:26.
{Though he is lord of all} (\Kurios pantōn ōn\). Concessive
participle \ōn\, "being legally owner of all" (one who has the
power, \ho echōn kuros\)

4:2 {Under guardians} (\hupo epitropous\). Old word from
\epitrepō\, to commit, to intrust. So either an overseer (Mt
or one in charge of children as here. It is common as the
guardian of an orphan minor. Frequent in the papyri as guardian
of minors. {Stewards} (\oikonomous\). Old word for manager of a
household whether freeborn or slave. See Lu 12:42; 1Co 4:2.
Papyri show it as manager of an estate and also as treasurer like
Ro 16:23. No example is known where this word is used of one in
charge of a minor and no other where both occur together. {Until
the time appointed of the father}
(\achri tēs prothesmias tou
. Supply \hēmeras\ (day), for \prothesmios\ is an old
adjective "appointed beforehand" (\pro, thesmos\, from
. Under Roman law the _tutor_ had charge of the child
till he was fourteen when the curator took charge of him till he
was twenty-five. Ramsay notes that in Graeco-Phrygia cities the
same law existed except that the father in Syria appointed both
tutor and curator whereas the Roman father appointed only the
tutor. Burton argues plausibly that no such legal distinction is
meant by Paul, but that the terms here designate two functions of
one person. The point does not disturb Paul's illustration at

4:3 {When we were children} (\hote ēmen nēpioi\). Before the
epoch of faith came and we (Jews and Gentiles) were under the law
as paedagogue, guardian, steward, to use all of Paul's metaphors.
{We were held in bondage} (\hēmeis ēmetha dedoulōmenoi\).
Periphrastic past perfect of \douloō\, to enslave, in a permanent
state of bondage. {Under the rudiments of the world} (\hupo ta
stoicheia tou kosmou\)
. \Stoichos\ is row or rank, a series. So
\stoicheion\ is any first thing in a \stoichos\ like the letters
of the alphabet, the material elements in the universe (2Pe
, the heavenly bodies (some argue for that here), the
rudiments of any act (Heb 5:12; Ac 15:10; Ga 5:1; 4:3,9; Col
. The papyri illustrate all the varieties in meaning of
this word. Burton has a valuable excursus on the word in his
commentary. Probably here (Lightfoot) Paul has in mind the
rudimentary character of the law as it applies to both Jews and
Gentiles, to all the knowledge of the world (\kosmos\ as the
orderly material universe as in Col 2:8,20)
. See on ¯Mt 13:38;
Ac 17:24; 1Co 3:22. All were in the elementary stage before
Christ came.

4:4 {The fulness of the time} (\to plērōma tou chronou\). Old
word from \plēroō\, to fill. Here the complement of the preceding
time as in Eph 1:10. Some examples in the papyri in the sense
of complement, to accompany. God sent forth his preexisting Son
(Php 2:6) when the time for his purpose had come like the
\prothesmia\ of verse 2. {Born of a woman} (\genomenon ek
. As all men are and so true humanity, "coming from a
woman." There is, of course, no direct reference here to the
Virgin Birth of Jesus, but his deity had just been affirmed by
the words "his Son" (\ton huion autou\), so that both his deity
and humanity are here stated as in Ro 1:3. Whatever view one
holds about Paul's knowledge of the Virgin Birth of Christ one
must admit that Paul believed in his actual personal preexistence
with God (2Co 8:9; Php 2:5-11), not a mere existence in idea.
The fact of the Virgin Birth agrees perfectly with the language
here. {Born under the law} (\genomenon hupo nomon\). He not only
became a man, but a Jew. The purpose (\hina\) of God thus was
plainly to redeem (\exagorasēi\, as in 3:13) those under the
law, and so under the curse. The further purpose (\hina\) was
that we (Jew and Gentile) might receive (\apolabōmen\, second
aorist active subjunctive of \apolambanō\)
, not get back (Lu
, but get from (\apo\) God the adoption (\tēn
. Late word common in the inscriptions (Deissmann,
_Bible Studies_, p. 239)
and occurs in the papyri also and in
Diogenes Laertes, though not in LXX. Paul adopts this current
term to express his idea (he alone in the N.T.) as to how God
takes into his spiritual family both Jews and Gentiles who
believe. See also Ro 8:15,23; 9:4; Eph 1:5. The Vulgate uses
_adoptio filiorum_. It is a metaphor like the others above, but a
very expressive one.

4:6 {Because ye are sons} (\hoti este huioi\). This is the reason
for sending forth the Son (4:4 and here). We were "sons" in
God's elective purpose and love. \Hoti\ is causal (1Co 12:15; Ro
. {The Spirit of his Son} (\to pneuma tou huioi autou\). The
Holy Spirit, called the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9f.), the Spirit
of Jesus Christ (Php 1:19). The Holy Spirit proceeds from the
Father and from the Son (Joh 15:26). {Crying, Abba, Father}
(\krazon Abba ho patēr\). The participle agrees with \pneuma\
neuter (grammatical gender), not neuter in fact. An old, though
rare in present as here, onomatopoetic word to croak as a raven
(Theophrastus, like Poe's _The Raven_), any inarticulate cry like
"the unuttered groanings" of Ro 8:26 which God understands.
This cry comes from the Spirit of Christ in our hearts. \Abba\ is
the Aramaic word for father with the article and \ho patēr\
translates it. The articular form occurs in the vocative as in
Joh 20:28. It is possible that the repetition here and in Ro
8:15 may be "a sort of affectionate fondness for the very term
that Jesus himself used" (Burton) in the Garden of Gethsemane
(Mr 14:36). The rabbis preserve similar parallels. Most of the
Jews knew both Greek and Aramaic. But there remains the question
why Jesus used both in his prayer. Was it not natural for both
words to come to him in his hour of agony as in his childhood?
The same thing may be true here in Paul's case.

4:7 {No longer a bondservant} (\ouketi doulos\). Slave. He
changes to the singular to drive the point home to each one. The
spiritual experience (3:2) has set each one free. Each is now a
son and heir.

4:8 {To them which by nature are not gods} (\tois phusei mē ousi
. In 1Co 10:20 he terms them "demons," the "so-called
gods" (1Co 8:5), worshipping images made by hands (Ac 17:29).

4:9 {Now that ye have come to know God} (\nun de gnontes\). Fine
example of the ingressive second aorist active participle of
\ginōskō\, come to know by experience through faith in Christ.
{Rather to be known of God} (\mallon de gnōsthentes hupo theou\).
First aorist passive participle of the same verb. He quickly
turns it round to the standpoint of God's elective grace reaching
them (verse 6). {How} (\pōs\). "A question full of wonder"
(Bengel). See 1:6. {Turn ye back again?} (\epistrephete
. Present active indicative, "Are ye turning again?" See
\metatithesthe\ in 1:6. {The weak and beggarly rudiments} (\ta
asthenē kai ptōcha stoicheia\)
. The same \stoicheia\ in verse 3
from which they had been delivered, "weak and beggarly," still in
their utter impotence from the Pharisaic legalism and the
philosophical and religious legalism and the philosophical and
religious quests of the heathen as shown by Angus's _The
Religious Quests of the Graeco-Roman World_. These were eagerly
pursued by many, but they were shadows when caught. It is pitiful
today to see some men and women leave Christ for will o' the
wisps of false philosophy. {Over again} (\palin anōthen\). Old
word, from above (\anō\) as in Mt 27:51, from the first (Lu
, then "over again" as here, back to where they were before
(in slavery to rites and rules).

4:10 {Ye observe} (\paratēreisthe\). Present middle indicative of
old verb to stand beside and watch carefully, sometimes with evil
intent as in Lu 6:7, but often with scrupulous care as here (so
in Dio Cassius and Josephus)
. The meticulous observance of the
Pharisees Paul knew to a nicety. It hurt him to the quick after
his own merciful deliverance to see these Gentile Christians
drawn into this spider-web of Judaizing Christians, once set
free, now enslaved again. Paul does not itemize the "days"
(Sabbaths, fast-days, feast-days, new moons) nor the "months"
(Isa 66:23) which were particularly observed in the exile nor
the "seasons" (passover, pentecost, tabernacles, etc.) nor the
"years" (sabbatical years every seventh year and the Year of
. Paul does not object to these observances for he kept
them himself as a Jew. He objected to Gentiles taking to them as
a means of salvation.

4:11 {I am afraid of you} (\phoboumai humas\). He shudders to
think of it. {Lest by any means I have bestowed labour upon you
in vain}
(\mē pōs eikēi kekopiaka eis humas\). Usual construction
after a verb of fearing about what has actually happened (\mē
pōs\ and the perfect active indicative of \kopiaō\, to toil
. A fear about the future would be expressed by the
subjunctive. Paul fears that the worst has happened.

4:12 {Be as I am} (\ginesthe hōs egō\). Present middle
imperative, "Keep on becoming as I am." He will not give them
over, afraid though he is.

4:13 {Because of an infirmity of the flesh} (\di' astheneian tēs
. All that we can get from this statement is the fact
that Paul's preaching to the Galatians "the first time" or "the
former time" (\to proteron\, adverbial accusative) was due to
sickness of some kind whether it was eye trouble (4:15) which
was a trial to them or to the thorn in the flesh (2Co 12:7) we
do not know. It can be interpreted as applying to North Galatia
or to South Galatia if he had an attack of malaria on coming up
from Perga. But the narrative in Ac 13; 14 does not read as if
Paul had planned to pass by Pisidia and by Lycaonia but for the
attack of illness. The Galatians understood the allusion for Paul
says "Ye know" (\oidate\).

4:14 {A temptation to you in my flesh} (\ton peirasmon humōn en
tēi sarki mou\)
. "Your temptation (or trial) in my flesh."
Peirasmon can be either as we see in Jas 1:2,12ff. If trial
here, it was a severe one. {Nor rejected} (\oude exeptusate\).
First aorist active indicative of \ekptuō\, old word to spit out
(Homer), to spurn, to loathe. Here only in N.T. Clemen
(_Primitive Christianity_, p. 342) thinks it should be taken
literally here since people spat out as a prophylactic custom at
the sight of invalids especially epileptics. But Plutarch uses it
of mere rejection. {As an angel of God} (\hōs aggelon theou\),
{as Christ Jesus} (\hōs Christon Iēsoun\). In spite of his
illness and repulsive appearance, whatever it was. Not a mere
"messenger" of God, but a very angel, even as Christ Jesus. We
know that at Lystra Paul was at first welcomed as Hermes the god
of oratory (Ac 14:12f.). But that narrative hardly applies to
these words, for they turned against Paul and Barnabas then and
there at the instigation of Jews from Antioch in Pisidia and

4:15 {That gratulation of yourselves} (\ho makarismos humōn\).
"Your felicitation." Rare word from \makarizō\, to pronounce
happy, in Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch. See also Ro 4:6,9. You no
longer felicitate yourselves on my presence with you. {Ye would
have plucked out your eves and given them to me}
ophthalmous humōn exoruxantes edōkate moi\)
. This is the
conclusion of a condition of the second class without \an\
expressed which would have made it clearer. But see Joh
16:22,24; Ro 7:7 for similar examples where the context makes it
plain without \an\. It is strong language and is saved from
hyperbole by "if possible" (\ei dunaton\). Did Paul not have at
this time serious eye trouble?

4:16 {Your enemy} (\echthros humōn\). Active sense of \echthros\,
hater with objective genitive. They looked on Paul now as an
enemy to them. So the Pharisees and Judaizers generally now
regarded him. {Because I tell you the truth} (\alētheuōn humin\).
Present active participle of \alētheuō\, old verb from \alēthēs\,
true. In N.T. only here and Eph 4:15. "Speaking the truth." It
is always a risky business to speak the truth, the whole truth.
It may hit and hurt.

4:17 {They zealously seek you} (\zēlousin humas\). \Zēloō\ is an
old and a good word from \zēlos\ (zeal, jealousy), but one can
pay court with good motives or evil. So here in contrast with
Paul's plain speech the Judaizers bring their fawning flattery.
{To shut you out} (\ekkleisai humas\). From Christ as he will
show (5:4). {That ye may seek them} (\hina autous zēloute\).
Probably present active indicative with \hina\ as in
\phusiousthe\ (1Co 4:6) and \ginōskomen\ (1Jo 5:20). The
contraction \-oēte\ would be \-ōte\, not \-oute\ (Robertson,
_Grammar_, p. 325)

4:18 {To be zealously sought in a good matter} (\zēlousthai en
. Present passive infinitive. It is only in an evil matter
that it is bad as here (\ou kalos\). {When I am present} (\en tōi
pareinai me\)
. "In the being present as to me."

4:19 {I am in travail} (\ōdinō\). I am in birth pangs. Old word
for this powerful picture of pain. In N.T. only here, verse 27;
Re 12:2. {Until Christ be formed in you} (\mechris hou
morphōthēi Christos en humin\)
. Future temporal clause with
\mechris hou\ (until which time) and the first aorist passive
subjunctive of \morphoō\, late and rare verb, in Plutarch, not in
LXX, not in papyri, only here in N.T. This figure is the embryo
developing into the child. Paul boldly represents himself as
again the mother with birth pangs over them. This is better than
to suppose that the Galatians are pregnant mothers (Burton) by a
reversal of the picture as in 1Th 2:7.

4:20 {I could with} (\ēthelon\). Imperfect active, I was wishing
like Agrippa's use of \eboulomēn\ in Ac 25:22, "I was just
wishing. I was longing to be present with you just now (\arti\)."
{To change my voice} (\allaxai tēn phōnēn mou\). Paul could put
his heart into his voice. The pen stands between them. He knew
the power of his voice on their hearts. He had tried it before.
{I am perplexed} (\aporoumai\). I am at a loss and know not what
to do. \Aporeō\ is from \a\ privative and \poros\, way. I am lost
at this distance from you. {About you} (\en humin\). In your
cases. For this use of \en\ see 2Co 7:16; Ga 1:24.

4:21 {That desire to be under the law} (\hoi hupo nomon thelontes
. "Under law" (no article), as in 3:23; 4:4, legalistic
system. Paul views them as on the point of surrender to legalism,
as "wanting" (\thelontes\) to do it (1:6; 3:3; 4:11,17). Paul
makes direct reference to these so disposed to "hear the law." He
makes a surprising turn, but a legitimate one for the legalists
by an allegorical use of Scripture.

4:22 {By the handmaid} (\ek tēs paidiskēs\). From Ge 16:1.
Feminine diminutive of \pais\, boy or slave. Common word for
damsel which came to be used for female slave or maidservant (Lu
or doorkeeper like Mt 26:29. So in the papyri.

4:23 {Is born} (\gegennētai\). Perfect passive indicative of
\gennaō\, stand on record so. {Through promise} (\di'
. In addition to being "after the flesh" (\kata

4:24 {Which things contain an allegory} (\hatina estin
. Literally, "Which things are allegorized"
(periphrastic present passive indicative of \allēgoreō\). Late
word (Strabo, Plutarch, Philo, Josephus, ecclesiastical writers),
only here in N.T. The ancient writers used \ainittomai\ to speak
in riddles. It is compounded of \allo\, another, and \agoreuō\,
to speak, and so means speaking something else than what the
language means, what Philo, the past-master in the use of
allegory, calls the deeper spiritual sense. Paul does not deny
the actual historical narrative, but he simply uses it in an
allegorical sense to illustrate his point for the benefit of his
readers who are tempted to go under the burden of the law. He
puts a secondary meaning on the narrative just as he uses
\tupikōs\ in 1Co 10:11 of the narrative. We need not press
unduly the difference between allegory and type, for each is used
in a variety of ways. The allegory in one sense is a speaking
parable like Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_, the Prodigal Son in
Lu 15, the Good Shepherd in Joh 10. But allegory was also
used by Philo and by Paul here for a secret meaning not obvious
at first, one not in the mind of the writer, like our
illustration which throws light on the point. Paul was familiar
with this rabbinical method of exegesis (Rabbi Akiba, for
instance, who found a mystical sense in every hook and crook of
the Hebrew letters)
and makes skilful use of that knowledge here.
Christian preachers in Alexandria early fell victims to Philo's
allegorical method and carried it to excess without regard to the
plain sense of the narrative. That startling style of preaching
survives yet to the discredit of sound preaching. Please observe
that Paul says here that he is using allegory, not ordinary
interpretation. It is not necessary to say that Paul intended his
readers to believe that this allegory was designed by the
narrative. He illustrates his point by it. {For these are}
(\hautai gar eisin\). Allegorically interpreted, he means. {From
Mount Sinai}
(\apo orous Sinā\). Spoken from Mount Sinai.
{Bearing} (\gennōsa\). Present active participle of \gennaō\, to
beget of the male (Mt 1:1-16), more rarely as here to bear of
the female (Lu 1:13,57). {Which is Hagar} (\hētis estin
. Allegorically interpreted.

4:25 {This Hagar} (\to Hagar\). Neuter article and so referring
to the word Hagar (not to the woman, \hē\ Hagar) as applied to
the mountain. There is great variety in the MSS. here. The
Arabians are descendants of Abraham and Hagar (her name meaning
wanderer or fugitive)
. {Answereth to} (\suntoichei\). Late word
in Polybius for keeping step in line (military term) and in
papyri in figurative sense as here. Lightfoot refers to the
Pythagorean parallels of opposing principles (\sunstoichiai\) as
shown here by Paul (Hagar and Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac, the old
covenant and the new covenant, the earthly Jerusalem and the
heavenly Jerusalem)
. That is true, and there is a correlative
correspondence as the line is carried on.

4:26 {The Jerusalem that is above} (\hē anō Ierousalēm\). Paul
uses the rabbinical idea that the heavenly Jerusalem corresponds
to the one here to illustrate his point without endorsing their
ideas. See also Re 21:2. He uses the city of Jerusalem to
represent the whole Jewish race (Vincent).

4:27 {Which is our mother} (\hētis estin mētēr hēmōn\). The
mother of us Christians, apply the allegory of Hagar and Sarah to
us. The Jerusalem above is the picture of the Kingdom of God.
Paul illustrates the allegory by quoting Isa 54:1, a song of
triumph looking for deliverance from a foreign yoke. {Rejoice}
(\euphranthēti\). First aorist passive imperative of \euphrainō\.
{Break forth} (\rēxon\). First aorist active imperative of
\rēgnumi\, to rend, to burst asunder. Supply \euphrosunēn\ (joy)
as in Isa 49:13. {The desolate} (\tēs erēmou\). The prophet
refers to Sarah's prolonged barrenness and Paul uses this fact as
a figure for the progress and glory of Christianity (the new
Jerusalem of freedom)
in contrast with the old Jerusalem of
bondage (the current Judaism). His thought has moved rapidly, but
he does not lose his line.

4:28 {Now we} (\hēmeis de\). Some MSS. have \humeis de\ (now ye).
In either case Paul means that Christians (Jews and Gentiles) are
children of the promise as Isaac was (\kata Isaak\, after the
manner of Isaac)

4:29 {Persecuted} (\ediōken\). Imperfect active of \diōkō\, to
pursue, to persecute. Ge 21:9 has in Hebrew "laughing," but the
LXX has "mocking." The Jewish tradition represents Ishmael as
shooting arrows at Isaac. {So now} (\houtos kai nun\) the Jews
were persecuting Paul and all Christians (1Th 2:15f.).

4:30 {Cast out} (\ekbale\). Second aorist active imperative of
\ekballō\. Quotation from Ge 21:10 (Sarah to Abraham) and
confirmed in 21:12 by God's command to Abraham. Paul gives
allegorical warning thus to the persecuting Jews and Judaizers.
{Shall not inherit} (\ou mē klēronomēsei\). Strong negative (\ou
mē\ and future indicative)
. "The law and the gospel cannot
co-exist. The law must disappear before the gospel" (Lightfoot).
See 3:18,29 for the word "inherit."

4:31 {But of the freewoman} (\alla tēs eleutheras\). We are
children of Abraham by faith (3:7).

[Table of Contents]
[Previous] [Next]
Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Galatians: Chapter 4)