RPM, Volume 18, Number 35, August 21 to August 27, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 68

By Albert Barnes





GALATIA was a province of Asia Minor, having Pontus on the east, Bithynia and Paphlagonia north, Cappadocia and Phrygia south, and Phrygia west. See the map prefixed to the Acts of the Apostles. In Tanner's Classical Atlas, however, it extends on the north to the Euxine or Black sea. It was probably about two hundred miles in its greatest extent from east to west, and varied in breadth from twelve to an hundred and fifty miles. It was one of the largest provinces of Asia Minor, and covered an extent of country almost as large as the State of New Jersey. It is probable, however, that the boundaries of Galatia varied at different times as circumstances dictated. It had no natural boundary, except on the north; and of course the limits may have been varied by conquests, or by the will of the Roman emperor, when it was erected into a province. The name Galatia is derived from the word Gaul, and was given to it because it had been conquered by the Gauls, who, having subdued the country, settled in it.�"Pausanias, Attic. cap. iv. These were mixed with various Grecian families, and the country was also called Gallograecia.�" Justin, lib. xxiv. 4; xxv. 2; xxvii. 3. This invasion of Asia Minor was made, according to Justin, (lib. xxv. cap. 2,) about the four hundred and seventy-ninth year after the founding of Rome, and, of course, about 272 years before Christ. They invaded Macedonia and Greece; and subsequently invaded Asia Minor, and became an object of terror to all that region. This expedition issued from Gaul, passed over the Rhine, along the Danube, through Noricum, Pannonia, and Moesia, and at its entrance into Germany, carried along with it many of the Tectosages. On their arrival in Thrace, Lutarius took them with him, crossed the Bosphorus, and effected the conquest of Asia Minor.�"Liv. lib. xxxviii. c. 16. Such was their number, that Justin says, "they filled all Asia (i.e. all Asia Minor) like swarms of bees. Finally, they became so numerous that no kings of the east could engage in war without an army of Gauls; neither when driven from their kingdom could they flee to any other than to the Gauls. Such was the terror of the name of Gauls, and such the invincible felicity of their arms�"et armorurn invicta felicitas erat�"that they supposed that in no other way could their own majesty be protected, or being lost, could be recovered, without the aid of Gallic courage.

Their being called in by the king of Bithynia for aid, when they had gained the victory, they divided the kingdom with him, and called that region Gallograecia."�"Justin, xxv. 2. Under the reign of Augustus Cesar, about 26 years before the birth of Christ, this region was reduced into the form of a Roman colony, and was governed by a proprietor, appointed by the emperor. Their original Gaulish language they retained so late as the fifth century, as appears from the testimony of Jerome, who says that their dialect was nearly the same as that of the Treviri.�"Tom. iv. p. 256. ed. Benedict. At the same time, they also spoke the Greek language in common with all the inhabitants of Lesser Asia, and therefore the epistle to them was written in Greek, and was intelligible to them as well as to others. The Galatians, like the inhabitants of the surrounding country, were heathens, and their religion was of a gross and debasing kind. They are said to have worshipped" the mother of the gods," under the name of Agdistis. Callimachus, in his hymns, calls them "a foolish people." And Hillary, himself a Gaul, calls them Gallos indociles�"expressions which, says Galmet, may well excuse Paul's addressing them as "foolish," chap. iii. 1. There were few cities to be found among them, with the exception of Ancyra, Tavium, and Pessinus, which carried on some trade. The possessors of Galatia were of three different nations or tribes of Gauls; the Tolistobogi, the Trocmi, and the Tectosagi. There are imperial medals extant, on which these names are found. It is of some importance to bear in mind these distinctions. It is possible that while Peter was making converts in one part or Galatia, the apostle Paul was in another; and that some, claiming authority as from Peter, propagated opinions not conformable to the views of Paul, to correct and expose which was one design of this epistle.�"Calmet. The Gauls are mentioned by ancient historians as a tall and valiant people. They went nearly naked. Their arms were only a sword and buckler. The impetuosity of their attack, it is said, was irresistible, and hence they became so formidable, and were usually so victorious. It is not possible to ascertain the number of the inhabitants of Galatia, at the time when the gospel was preached there, or when this epistle was written. In 2 Macc. 8:20, it is said that Judas Maccabeus, exhorting his followers to fight manfully against the Syrians, referred to several instances of Divine interposition to encourage them" and among others, "he told them of the battle which they had in Babylon with the Galatians; how they came but eight thousand in all to the business, with four thousand Macedonians; and that the Macedonians being perplexed, the eight thousand destroyed an hundred and twenty thousand, because of the help which they had from Heaven, and so received a great booty." But it is not certain that this refers to those who dwelt in Galatia. It may refer to Gauls who at that time had overrun Asia Minor; the Greek word here used, galatav, being taken equally for either. It is evident, however, that there was a large population that went under this general name; and it is probable that Galatia was thickly settled at the time when the gospel was preached there. It was in a central part of Asia Minor, then one of the most densely populated parts of the world, and was a region singularly fertile.�"Strabo, lib. xii. p. 567, 568, ed. Casaub. Many persons, also, were attracted there for the sake of commerce. That there were many Jews also, in all the provinces of Asia Minor, is apparent not only. from the Acts of the Apostles, but is expressly declared by Josephus, Ant. xvi. 6.


THERE is no certain information as to the time when the gospel was first preached in Galatia, or the persons by whom it was done. There is mention, however, of Paul's having preached there several times, and several circumstances lead us to suppose that those churches were established by him, or that he was the first to carry the gospel to thean, or that he and Barnabas together preached the gospel there on the mission on which they were sent from Antioch, Acts 13:2, seq. In Ac 16:5,6, it is expressly said that they went "throughout Phrygia and the region Of Galatia." This journey was for the purpose of confirming the churches, and was undertaken at the suggestion of Paul, (Ac 15:36,) with the design of visiting their brethren in every city where they had preached the word of the Lord. It is true, that in the account of the mission of Paul and Barnabas, (Ac 14) it is not expressly said that they went into Galatia; but it is said (Ac 14:5,6,) that when they were in Iconium, an assault was made on them, or a purpose formed to stone them, and that, being apprized of it, they fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, "and unto the region that lieth round about." Pliny, lib. v., c. 27, says, that a part of Lycaonia bordered on Galatia, and contained fourteen cities, of which Iconium was the most celebrated. Phrygia also was contiguous to Galatia, and to Lycaonia, and these circumstances render it probable that when Paul proposed to Barnabas to visit again the churches where they had preached, Galatia was included, and that they had been there betbre this visit referred to in Ac 16:6. It may be, also, that Paul refers to himself in the epistle, (Ga 1:6,) where he says, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that CALLED YOU into the grace of Christ unto another gospel;" and if so, then it is plain that he preached to them first, and founded the churches there. The same thing may be evinced also from the expression in Ga 4:15, where he says, "I bear you record, that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me;" an expression which leads us to suppose that they had formed for him a peculiar attachment, because he had first preached the gospel to them, and that there had existed all the ardour of attachment implied in their first love. It is quite evident, therefore, I think, that the gospel was preached among the Galatians first by Paul, either alone or in company with some other one of the apostles. It is possible, however, as has been intimated above, that Peter also may have preached in one part of Galatia at the time that Paul was preaching in other parts. It is a circumstance also of some importance on this point, that Paul speaks in this epistle in a tone of authority, and with a severity of reproof which he would hardly have used unless he had at first preached there, and had a right to be regarded as the founder of the church, and to address it as its father. In this respect the tone here is quite different, as Mr. Locke has remarked, from what is observable in the epistle to the Romans. Paul had not been at Rome when he addressed the church there by letter, and his language differs materially from that which occurs in the epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians. It was to them the very respectful and mild language of a stranger; here it is respectful, but it is in the authoritative language of a father having a right to reprove.


Many have supposed that this was the first epistle which Paul wrote. Tertullian maintained this, (See Lardnet, vol. vi. p. 7. ed. Lond. 1829,) and Epiphanius also. Theodoret and others suppose it was written at Rome, and was conse quently written near the close of the life of Paul, and was one of his last epistles. Lightfoot supposes also that it was written from Rome, and that it was among the first which Paul wrote there. Chrysostom says that this epistle was written before that to the Romans. Lewis Capellus, Witsius, and Wall suppose that it was written from Ephesus after the apostle had been a second time in Galatia. This also was the opinion of Pearson, who places it in the year 57, after the first epistle to the Corinthians, and before Paul left Ephesus. Grotius thought it difficult to assign the date of the epistle, but conjectures that it was written about the same time as that to the Romans. Mill supposes that it was not written until after that to the Romans, probably at Troas, or some other place in Asia, as Paul was going to Jerusalem. He dates the epistle in the year 58. Dr. Benson supposes that it was written at Corinth, when the apostle was first there, and made a long stay of a year and six months. While there, he supposes that Paul received tidings of the instability of the converts in Galatia, and wrote this epistle and sent it by one of his assistants. See these opinions examined in Lardner as quoted above. Lardner himself supposes that it was written from Corinth about the year 52, or the beginning of the year 53. Macknight supposes it was written from Antioch, after the council at Jerusalem, and before Paul and Silas undertook the journey in which they delivered to the churches the decrees which were ordained at Jerusalem, Ac 16:4. Hug, in his Introduction, supposes that it was written at Ephesus in the year 57, and after the I. and II. Thess., and the epistle to Titus had been written. Mr. Locke supposes that Paul established churches in Galatia, in the year 51; and that this epistle was written between that time and the year 57. These opinions are mostly mere conjecture; and amidst such a variety of sentiment, it is evidently impossible to determine exactly at what time it was written. The only mark of time in the epistle itself occurs in Ac 1:6, where the apostle says, "I marvel that ye are so soon outw tacewv, removed from him that called you," etc.; where the words "so soon" would lead us to suppose that it was at no distant period after he had been among them. Still it might have been several years. The date assigned to it in the Polyglott Bible (Bagster's) is the year 58. The exact date of the epistle is of very little importance. In regard to the time when it was written the only arguments which seem to me to be of much weight are those advanced by Paley in his Horae Paulinse. "It will hardly be doubted," says he, "but that it was written whilst the dispute concerning the circumcision of Gentile converts was fresh in men"s minds; for even supposing it to have been a forgery, the only credible motive that can be assigned for the forgery, was to bring the name and authority of the apostle, into this controversy. No design can be so insipid, or so unlikely to enter into the thoughts of any man, as to produce an epistle written earnestly and pointedly on one side of a controversy, when the controversy itself was dead, and the question no longer interesting to any class of readers whatever. Now the controversy concerning the circumcision of Gentiles was of such a nature, that, if it arose at all, it must have arisen in the beginning of Christianity." Paley then goes on to show that it was natural that the Jews, and converts from the Jews, should start this question, and agitate it; and that this was much more likely to be insisted on while the temple was standing, and they continued as a nation, and sacrifices were offered, than after their city and temple were destroyed. It is therefore clear that the controversy must have been started, and the epistle written before the invasion of Judea, by Titus, and the destruction of Jerusalem. The internal evidence leads to this conclsion. On the whole, it is probable that the epistle was written somewhere about the year 53, or between that and 57; and was evidently designed to settle an important controversy in the churches of Galatia. The place where it was written, must be, I think, wholly a matter of conjecture. The subscription at the end, that it was written from Rome, is of no authority whatever; and there are no internal circumstances, which, so far as I can see, throw any light on the subject.


IT is easy to discern from the epistle itself that the following circumstances existed in the churches of Galatia, and that it was written with reference to them.

(1.) That they had been at first devotedly attached to the apostle Paul, and had received his commands and instructions with implicit confidence when he was among them, Ga 4:14,15; Comp. Ga 1:6.

(2.) That they had been perverted from the doctrine which he taught them soon after he had left them, Ac 1:6

(3.) That this had been done by persons who were of Jewish origin, and who insisted on the observance of the rites of the Jewish religion.

(4.) That they claimed to have come directly from Jerusalem, and to have derived their views of religion and their authority from the apostles there.

(5.) That they taught that the apostle Paul was inferior to the apostles there; that he had been called more recently into the apostolic office; that the apostles at Jerusalem must be regarded as the source of authority in the Christian church; and that, therefore, the teaching of Paul should yield to that which was derived directly from Jerusalem.

(6.) That the laws of Moses were binding, and were necessary in order to justification. That the rite of circumcision especially was of binding obligation; and it is probable (Ga 6:12) that they had prevailed on many of the Galatians to be circumcised, and certain that they had induced them to observe the Jewish festivals, Ac 4:10.

(7.) It would seem, also, that they urged that Paul himself had changed his views since he had been among the Galatians, and now maintained the necessity of circumcision, Ga 5:11. Perhaps they alleged this, from the undoubted fact, that Paul, when at Jerusalem, (Ac 21:26) had complied with some of the customs of the Jewish ritual.

(8.) That they urged that all the promises of God were made to Abraham, and that whoever would partake of those promnises, must be circumcised as Abraham Was. This Paul answers, Ge 3:7; 4:7.

(9.) That in consequence of the promulgation of these views, great dissensions had arisen in the church, and strifes of an unhappy nature existed, greatly contrary to the spirit which should be manifested by those who bore the Christian name. From this description of the state of things in the churches of Galatia, the design of the epistle is apparent, and the scope of the argument will be easily seen. Of this state of things the apostle had been undoubtedly apprized, but whether by letters, or by messengers from the churches there, is not declared. It is not improbable, that some of his friends in the churches there had informed him of it, and he immediately set about a remedy to the evils existing there.

1. The first object, therefore, was to show that he had received his commission as an apostle, directby from God. He had not received it at all from man; he had not even been instructed by the other apostles; he had not acknowledged their superiority; he had not even consulted them. He did not acknowledge, therefore, that the apostles at Jerusalem possessed any superior rank or authority. His commission, though he had not seen the Lord Jesus before he was crucified, he had, nevertheless, derived immediately from him. The doctrine, therefore, which he had taught them, that the Mosaic laws were not binding, and that there was no necessity of being circumcised, was a doctrine which had been derived directly from God. In proof of this, he goes into an extended statement, (Ga 1) of the manner in which he had been called, and of the fact, that he had not consulted with the apostles at Jerusalem, or confessed his inferiority to them; of the fact that when they had become acquainted with the manner in which he preached, they approved his course, (Ga 1:24; 2:1-10;) and of the fact that on one occasion, he had actually been constrained to differ from Peter, the oldest of the apostles, on a point in which he was manifestly wrong, and on one of the very points then under consideration.

II. The second great object, therefore, was to show the real nature and design of the law of Moses, and to prove that the peculiar rites of the Mosaic ritual, and especially the rite of circumcision, were not necessary to justification and salvation; and that they who observed that rite, did in fact renounce the Scripture method of justification; make the sacrifice of Christ of no value, and make slaves of themselves. This leads him into a consideration of the true nature of the doctrine of justification, and of the way of salvation by a Redeemer.

This point he shows in the following way :�"

(1.) By showing that those who lived before Christ, and especially Abraham, were in fact justified, not by obedience to the ritual law of Moses, but by faith in the promises of God, Ga 3:1-18.

(2.) By showing that the design of the Mosaic ritual was only temporary, and that it was intended to lead to Christ, Ga 3:19-29; Ga 4:1-8.

(3.) In view of this, he reproves the Galatians for having so readily fallen into the observance of these customs, Ga 4:9-21.

(4.) This view of the design of the Mosaic law, and of its tendency, he illustrates by an allegory drawn from the case of Hagar, Ga 4:21-31. This whole discourse is succeeded by an affectionate exhortation to the Galatians, to avoid the evils which had been engendered; reproving them for the strifes existing, in consequence of the attempt to introduce the Mosaic rites, and earnestly entreating them to stand firm in the liberty which Christ had vouchsafed to them from the servitude of the Mosaic institutions, chapters 5 and 6.

The design of the whole epistle, therefore, is to state and defend the true doctrine of justification, and to show that it did not depend on.the observance of the laws of Moses. In this general purpose, therefore, it accords with the design of the epistle to the Romans. In one respect, however, it differs from the design of that epistle. That was written, to show that man could not be justified by any works of the law, or by conformity to any law, moral or ceremonial; the object of this is, to show that justification cannot be obtained by conformity to the ritual or ceremonial law; or that the observance of the ceremonial law is not necessary to salvation. In this respect, therefore, this epistle is of less general interest than that to the Romans. It is also, in some respects, more difficult. The argument, if I may so express myself, is more Jewish. It is more in the Jewish manner is designed to meet a Jew in his own way, and is, therefore, somewhat more difficult for all to follow. Still it contains great and vital statements on the doctrines of salvation, and, as such, demands the profound and careful attention of all who desire to be saved, and who would know the way of acceptance with God.


The main design of Paul, in this chapter, is to show that he had received his call to the apostleship, not from man, but from God. It had been alleged (see the Introduction) that the apostles at Jerusalem possessed the most elevated rank, and the highest authority in the Christian church; that they were to be regarded as the fountains and the judges of the truth; that Paul was inferior to them as an apostle; and that they who inculcated the necessity of circumcision, and the observance of the rites of Moses, were sustained by the authority and the examples of the apostles at Jerusalem. To meet this statement was the design of this first chapter. Paul's grand object was to show that he was not appointed by men; that he had not been commissioned by men; that he had not derived his instructions from men; that he had not even consulted with them; but that he had been commissioned and taught expressly by Jesus Christ; and that when the apostles at Jerusalem had become acquainted with him, and with his views and plans of labour, long after he had begun to preach, they had fully concurred with him. This argument comprises the following parts:�"

I. The solemn declaration that he was not commissioned by men, and that he was not, in any sense, an apostle of man, together with the general salutation to the churches in Galatia, Ga 1:1-5.

II. The expression of his astonishment that the Galatians had so soon forsaken his instructions, and embraced another gospel; and a solemn declaration that whoever preached another gospel was to be held accursed, Ga 1:6-10. Twice he anathematizes those who attempt to declare any other way of justification than that which consisted in faith in Christ, and says that it was no gospel at all. It was to be held as a great and fixed principle, that there was but one way of salvation; and no matter who attempted to preach any other, he was to be held accursed.

III. To show, therefore, that he was not appointed by men, and that he had not received his instruction from men, but that he had preached the truth directly revealed to him by God, and that which was therefore immutable and eternal, he goes into a statement of the manner in which he was called into the ministry, and made acquainted with the gospel, vets. Ga 1:11-24.

(a) He affirms that he was not taught it by man, but by the express revelation of Jesus Christ, Ga 1:11,12.

(b) He refers to his former well-known life, and his zeal in the Jewish religion; showing how much he had been formerly opposed to the gospel, Ga 1:13,14.

(c) He says that he had been separated, by the Divine purpose, from his mother's womb, to be a preacher of the gospel; and that when he was called to the ministry, he had no conference with any human being, as to what he was to preach; he did not go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were older apostles, but he retired far from them into Arabia, and thence again returned to Damascus, Ga 1:15-17.

(d) After three years, he says, he did indeed go to Jerusalem; but he remained there but fifteen days, and saw none of the apostles but Peter and James, Ga 1:18,19. His views of the gospel were formed before that; and that he did not submit implicitly to Peter, and learn of him, he shows in chapter 2, where, he says, he "withstood him to the face."

(e) After that, he says, he departed into the regions of Cilicia, in Asia Minor, and had no opportunity of conference with the churches which were in Judea. Yet they heard that he who had been formerly a persecutor had become a preacher, and they glorified God for it, Ga 1:20-24. Of course, he had had no opportunity of deriving his views of religion from them; he had been in no sense dependent on them; but, so far as they were acquainted with his views, they concurred in them. The sum of the argument, therefore, in this chapter is, that when Paul went into Cilicia and the adjacent regions, he had never seen but two of the apostles, and that but for a short time; he had never seen the apostles together, and he had never received any instructions from them. His views of the gospel, which he had imparted to the Galatians, he had derived directly from God.

**** Due to space limitations, See Notes on Verses 1 and 2 combined in Notes for Galatians Chapter 1, verse 2.********


**Due to the length of Introductory Material to Chapter, Notes for Verses 1 and 2 have been combined in notes for Verse 2.**

Verse 1. Paul, an apostle. See Barnes "Ro 1:1".

This is the usual form in which he commences his epistles; and it was of special importance to commence this epistle in this manner, because it was one design to vindicate his apostleship, or to show that he had received his commission directly from the Lord jesus.

Not of men. "Not from ap, men." That is, he was not from any body of men, or commissioned by men. The word apostle means sent; and Paul means to say, that he was not sent to execute any purpose of men, or commissioned by them. His was a higher calling�"a, calling of God, and he had been sent directly by him. Of course, he means to exclude here all classes of men as having had anything to do in sending him forth; and especially he means to affirm, that he had not been sent out by the body of apostles at Jerusalem. This, it will be remembered, (see the Introduction,) was one of the charges of those who had perverted the Galatians from the faith which Paul had preached to them.

Neither by man. "Neither by or through di the instrumentality of any man." Here he designs to exclude all men from having had any agency in his appointment to the apostolic office. He was neither sent out from any body of men to execute their purposes, nor did he receive his commission, authority, or ordination, through the medium of any man. A minister of the gospel now receives his call from God, but he is ordained or set apart to his office by man. Matthias, the apostle chosen in the place of Judas, (Ac 1:17,) received his call from God, but it was by the vote of the body of the apostles. Timothy was also called of God, but he was appointed to his office by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, 1 Ti 4:14. But Paul here says that he received no such commission as that from the apostles. They were not the means or the medium of ordaining him to his work. He had, indeed, together with Barnabas, been set apart at Antioch by the brethren there, (Ac 13:1-3,) for a special mission in Asia Minor; but this was not an appointment to the apostleship. He had been restored to sight after the miraculous blindness produced by seeing the Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus, by the laying on of the hands of Ananias, and had received important instruction from him, (Ac 9:17;) but his commission as an apostle had been received directly from the Lord Jesus, without any intervening medium, or any form of human authority, Ac 9:15; 22:17-21; 1 Co 9:1.

But by Jesus Christ. That is, directly by Christ. He had been called by him, and commissioned by him, and sent by him, to engage in the work of the gospel.

And God the Father. These words were omitted by Marcion, because, says Jerome, he held that Christ raised himself from the dead. But there is no authority for omitting them. The sense is, that he had the highest possible authority for the office of an apostle; he had been called to it by God himself, who had raised up the Redeemer. It is remarkable here, that Paul associates Jesus Christ and God the Father as having called and commissioned him. We may ask here, of one who should deny the Divinity of Christ, how Paul could mention him as being equal with God in the work of commissioning him? We may further ask, how could he say that he had not received his, call to this office from a man, if Jesus Christ was a mere man? That he was called by Christ he expressly says, and strenuously maintains it as a point of great importance. And yet the very point and drift of his argument is to show that he was not called by man. How could this be if Christ was a mere man?

Who raised him from the dead. See Barnes "Ac 2:24, See Barnes "Ac 2:32".

It is not quite clear why Paul introduces this circumstance here. It may have been

(1) because his mind was full of it, and he wished on all occasions to make that fact prominent;

(2) because this was the distinguishing feature of the Christian religion, that the Lord Jesus had been raised up from the dead; and he wished, in the outset, to present the superiority of that religion which had brought life and immortality to light; and

(3) because he wished to show that he had received his commission from that same God who had raised up Jesus, and who was, therefore, the Author of the true religion. His commission was from the Source of life and lights; the God of the living and the dead; the God who was the Author of the glorious scheme which revealed life and immortality.

{*} "of men" "from men"

{a} "Jesus Christ" Ac 9:6,15

{b} "who raised" Ac 2:24

Verse 2. And all the brethren which are with me. It was usual for Paul to associate with him the ministers of the gospel, or other Christians who were with him, in expressing friendly salutations to the churches to which he wrote, or as uniting with him, and concurring in the sentiments which he expressed. Though Paul claimed to be inspired, yet it would do much to conciliate favour for what he advanced, if others also concurred with what he said, and especially if they were known, to the churches to which the epistles were written. Sometimes the names of others were associated with his in the epistle. See Barnes "1 Co 1:1" See Barnes "Php 1:1"

See Barnes "Col 1:1" See Barnes "1 Th 1:1".

As we do not know where this epistle was written, of course we are ignorant who the "brethren" were who are here referred to. They may have been ministers with Paul, or they may have been the private members of the churches. Commentators have been much divided in opinion on the subject; but all is conjecture. It is obviously impossible to determine.

Unto the churches. How many churches there were in Galatia is unknown. There were several cities in Galatia, as Ancyria, Tavia, Pessinus, etc. It is not improbable that a church had been established in each of the cities, and as they were not far distant from each other, and the people had the same general character and habits, it is not improbable that they had fallen into the same errors. Hence the epistle is directed to them in common.

{a} "Galatia" Ac 16:6; 18:23


Verse 3. Grace be to you, etc. This is the usual apostolic salutation, imploring for them the blessing of God. See Barnes "Ro 1:7".

{b} "Grace" Ro 1:7


Verse 4. Who gave himself for our sins. The reason why Paul so soon introduces this important doctrine, and makes it here so prominent, probably is, that this was the cardinal doctrine of the Christian religion, the great truth which was ever to be kept before the mind, and because this truth had been in fact lost sight of by them. They had embraced doctrines which tended to obscure it, or to make it void. They had been led into error by the Judaizing teachers, who held that it was necessary to be circumcised, and to conform to the whole Jewish ritual. Yet the tendency of all this was to obscure the doctrines of the gospel, and particularly the great truth that men can be justified only by faith in the blood of Jesus, Ga 5:4. Comp. Ga 1:6,7. Paul, therefore, wished to make this prominent�"the very starting point in their religion; a truth never to be forgotten, that Christ gave himself for their sins, that he might deliver them from all the bad influences of this world, and from all the false systems of religion engendered in this world. The expression "who gave" tou dontov is one that often occurs in relation to the work of the Redeemer, where it is represented as a gift, either on the part of God, or on the part of Christ himself. See Barnes "Joh 3:16".

Comp. Joh 4:10; Ro 4:25; 2 Co 9:15; Ga 2:20; Eph 5:25; Tit 2:14.

This passage proves,

(1.) that it was wholly voluntary on the part of the Lord Jesus. No one compelled him to come; no one could compel him. It is not too much to say, that God could not, and would not, COMPEL any innocent and holy being to undertake the great work of the atonement, and endure the bitter sorrows which were necessary to redeem man. God will compel the guilty to suffer, but he never will compel the innocent to endure sorrows, even in behalf of others. The whole work of redemption must be voluntary, or it could not be performed.

(2.) It evinced great benevolence on the part of the Redeemer. He did not come to take upon himself unknown and unsurveyed woes. He did not go to work in the dark. He knew what was to be done. He knew just what sorrows were to be endured�"how long, how keen, how awful. And yet, knowing this, he came resolved and prepared to endure all those woes, and to drink the bitter cup to the dregs.

(3.) If there had not been this benevolence in his bosom, man must have perished for ever. He could not have saved himself; and he had no power or right to compel another to suffer in his behalf; and even God would not lay this mighty burden on any other, unless he was entirely willing to endure it. How much, then, do we owe to the Lord Jesus; and how entirely should we devote our lives to him who loved us, and gave himself for us! The word himself is rendered, by the Syriac, his life, (Naphshe) and this is in fact the sense of the Greek, that he gave his life for our sins, or that he died in our stead. He gave his life up to toil, tears, privation, sorrow, and death, that he might redeem us. The phrase, "for our sins," uper twn amartiwn hmwn, means the same as on account of; meaning, that the cause or reason why he gave himself to death was our sins; that is, he died because we are sinners, and because we could be saved only by his giving himself up to death. Many Mss., instead of uper, here read peri, but the sense is not materially varied. The Syriac translates it, "who gave himself instead of," by a word denoting that there was a substitution of the Redeemer in our place. The sense is, that the Lord Jesus became a vicarious offering, and died in the stead of sinners. It is not possible to express this idea more distinctly and unambiguously than Paul has done in this passage. Sin was the procuring cause of his death; to make expiation for sin was the design of his coming; and sin is pardoned and removed only by his substituted suffering.

That he might deliver us. The word here used exelhtai, properly means, to pluck out, to tear out; to take out from a number, to select; then to rescue or deliver. This is the sense here. He came and gave himself that he might rescue or deliver us from this present evil world. It does not mean to take away by death, or to remove to another world, but that he might effect a separation between us and what the apostle calls here, "this present evil world." The grand purpose was to rescue sinners from the dominion of this world, and separate them unto God.

This present evil world. See Joh 17:15,16. Locke supposes that by this phrase is intended the Jewish institutions, or the Mosaical age, in contradistinction from the age of the Messiah. Bloomfield supposes that it means "the present state of being, this life, filled as it is with calamity, sin, and sorrow; or, rather, the sin itself, and the misery consequent upon it." Rosenmuller understands by it, "the men of this age, Jews, who reject the Messiah; and Pagans, who are devoted to idolatry and crime." The word rendered world, aiwn, means properly age, an indefinitely long period of time; then eternity, for ever. It then comes to mean the world, either present or future; and then the present world, as it is, with its cares, temptations, and desires; the idea of evil, physical and moral, being everywhere implied, (Robinson, Lex.,) Mt 13:22; Lu 16:8; Lu 20:34; Ro 12:2. Here it means the world as it is, without religion; a world of bad passions, false opinions, corrupt desires; a world full of ambition, and of the love of pleasure and of gold; a world where God is not loved or obeyed; a world where men are regardless of right, and truth, and duty; where they live for themselves, and not for God; in short, that great community, which in the Scriptures is called THE WORLD, in contradistinction from the kingdom of God. That world, that evil world, is full of sin; and the object of the Redeemer was to deliver us from that; that is, to effect a separation between his followers and that. It follows, therefore, that his followers constitute a peculiar community, not governed by the prevailing maxims, or influenced by the peculiar feelings of the people of this world. And it follows, also, that if there is not in fact such a separation, then the purpose of the Redeemer's death, in regard to us, has not been effected, and we are still a part of that great and ungodly community, the world.

According to the will of God, etc. Not by the will of man, or by his wisdom, but in accordance with the will of God. It was his purpose that the Lord Jesus should thus give himself; and his doing it was in accordance with his will, and was pleasing in his sight. The whole plan originated in the Divine purpose, and has been executed in accordance with the Divine will. If in accordance with his will, it is good, and is worthy of universal acceptation:

{c} "gave himself" Joh 10:17,18; Tit 2:14

{d} "deliver us" Joh 17:14

{e} "evil world" 1 Jo 2:16

{f} "according" Ro 8:27


Verse 5. To whom be glory, etc. Let him have all the praise and honour of the plan and its execution. It is not uncommon for Paul to introduce an ascription of praise in the midst of an argument. See Barnes "Ro 1:25".

It results from the strong desire which he had that all the glory should be given to God, and showed that he believed that all blessings had their origin in him, and that he should be always acknowledged.


Verse 6. I marvel. I wonder. It is remarked by Luther, (Com. in loco,) that Paul here uses as mild a word as possible. He does not employ the language of severe reproof, but he expresses his astonishment that the thing should have occurred. He was deeply affected and amazed that such a thing could have happened. They had cordially embraced the gospel; they had manifested the tenderest attachment for him; they had given themselves to God; and yet, in a very short time, they had been led wholly astray, and had embraced opinions which tended wholly to pervert and destroy the gospel. They had shown an instability and inconstancy of character which was to him perfectly surprising.

That ye are so soon. This proves that the epistle was written not long after the gospel was first preached to them. According to the general supposition, it could not have been more than from two to five years. Had it been a long and gradual decline; had they been destitute for years of the privileges of the gospel; or had they had time to forget him who had first preached to them, it would not have been a matter of surprise. But when it occurred in a few months; when their once ardent love for Paul, and their confidence in him had so soon vanished, or their affections become alienated, and when they had so soon embraced opinions tending to set the whole gospel aside, it could not but excite his wonder. Learn hence that men, professedly pious, and apparently ardently attached to the gospel, may become soon perverted in their views, and alienated from those who had called them into the gospel, and whom they professed tenderly to love. The ardour of the affections becomes cool, and some artful, and zealous, and plausible teachers of error seduce the mind, corrupt the heart, and alienate the affections. Where there is the ardour of the first love to God, there is also an effort soon made by the adversary to turn away the heart from him; and young converts are commonly soon attacked in some plausible manner, and by art and arguments adapted to turn away their minds from the truth, and to alienate the affections from God.

So soon removed. This also, Luther remarks, is a mild and gentle term. It implies that foreign influence had been used to turn away their minds from the truth. The word here used metatiyesye means, to transpose, put in another place; and then, to go over from one party to another. Their affections had become transferred to other doctrines than those which they had at first embraced, and they had moved off from the only true foundation, to one which would give them no support.

From him, that called you. There has been great difference of opinion in regard to the sense of this passage. Some have supposed that it refers to God; others to Christ; others to Paul himself. Either supposition makes good sense, and conveys an idea not contrary to the Scriptures in other places. Doddridge, Chandler, Clarke, Macknight, Locke, and some others, refer it to Paul; Rosenmuller, Koppe, and others, suppose it refers to God; and others refer it to the Redeemer. The Syriac renders it thus: "I marvel that ye are so soon turned away from that Messiah (Christ) who has called you," etc. It is not possible, perhaps, to determine the true sense. It does not seem to me to refer to Paul, as the main object of the epistle is not to show that they had removed from him, but from the gospel�"a far more grievous offence; and it seems to me that it is to be referred to God. The reasons are,

(1.) that he who had called them, is said to have called them "into the grace of Christ," which would be hardly said of Christ himself; and

(2) that the work of calling men is usually, in the Scriptures, attributed to God, 1 Th 2:12; 5:24; 2 Th 2:14; 2 Ti 1:9.

Into the grace of Christ. Locke renders this, "into the covenant of grace which is by Christ." Doddridge understands it of the method of salvation which is by or through the grace of Christ. There is no doubt that it refers to the plan of salvation which is by Christ, or in Christ; and the main idea is, that the scheme of salvation which they had embraced under his instruction,, was one which contemplated salvation only by the grace or favour of Christ; and that from that they had been removed to another scheme, essentially different, where the grace of Christ was made useless and void. It is Paul's object to show that the true plan makes Christ the great and prominent object; and that the plan which they had embraced was, in this respect, wholly different.

Unto another gospel. A gospel which destroys the grace of Christ; which proclaims salvation on other terms than simple dependence on the merits of the Lord Jesus; and which has introduced the Jewish rites and ceremonies as essential, in order to obtain salvation. The apostle calls that scheme the gospel, because it pretended to be: it was preached by those who claimed to be preachers of the gospel; who alleged that they had come direct from the apostles at Jerusalem, and who pretended to declare the method of salvation. It claimed to be the gospel, and yet it was essentially unlike the plan which he had preached as constituting the gospel. That which he preached, inculcated the entire dependence of the sinner on the merits and grace of Christ; that system had introduced dependence on the observance of the rites of the Mosaic system as necessary to salvation.

{*} "marvel" "wonder"


Verse 7. Which is not another. There is also a great variety of views in regard to the meaning of this expression. Tindal translates it, "Which is nothing else, but there be some that trouble you." Locke, "Which is not owing to anything else, but only this, that ye are troubled with a certain sort of men who would overturn the gospel of Christ." But Rosenmuller, Koppe, Bloomfield, and others, give a different view; and according to them the sense is, "Which, however, is not another gospel, nor indeed the gospel at all, or true," etc. According to this, the design was to state that what they taught had none of the elements or characteristics of the gospel. It was a different system, and one which taught an entirely different method of justification before God. It seems to me that this is the true sense of the passage, and that Paul means to teach them that the system, though it was called the gospel, was essentially different from that which he had taught, and which consisted in simple reliance on Christ for salvation. The system which they taught was, in fact, the Mosaic system�"the Jewish mode, depending on the rites and ceremonies of religion�"and which, therefore, did not deserve to be called the gospel. It would load them again with burdensome rites, and with cumbrous institutions, from which it was the great purpose of the gospel to relieve them.

But there be some that trouble you. Though this is most manifestly another system, and not the gospel at all, yet there are some persons who are capable of giving trouble, and of unsettling your minds, by making it plausible. They pretend that they have come direct from the apostles at Jerusalem; that they have received their instructions from them, and that they preach the true gospel as they teach it. They pretend that Paul was called into the office of an apostle after them; that he had never seen the Lord Jesus; that he had derived his information only from others; and thus they are able to present a plausible argument, and to unsettle the minds of the Galatians.

And would pervert. That is, the tendency of their doctrine is wholly to turn away, metastreqai, to destroy, or render useless the gospel of Christ. It would lead, to the denial of the necessity of dependence on the merits of the Lord Jesus for salvation, and would substitute dependence on rites and ceremonies. This does not of necessity mean that such was the design of their teaching, for they might have been in the main honest; but that such was the tendency and result of their teaching. It would lead men to rely on the Mosaic rites for salvation.

{b} "which is not another" 2 Co 11:4

{c} "pervert" Ac 15:1,24; 2 Co 2:17; Ga 5:10,12


Verse 8. But though we. That is, we the apostles. Probably he refers particularly to himself, as the plural is often used by Paul when speaking of himself. He alludes here, possibly, to a charge which was brought against him by the false teachers in Galatia, that he had changed his views since he came among them, and now preached differently from what he did then. See the Introduction. They endeavoured probably to fortify their own opinions in regard to the obligations of the Mosaic law, by affirming, that though Paul when he was among them had maintained that the observance of the law was not necessary to salvation, yet that he had changed his views, and now held the same doctrine on the subject which they did. What they relied on in support of this opinion is unknown. It is certain, however, that Paul did, on some occasions, (See Barnes "Ac 21:21-26,) comply with the Jewish rites; and it is not improbable that they were acquainted with that fact, and interpreted it as proving that he had changed his sentiments on the subject. At all events, it would make their allegation plausible that Paul was now in favour of the observance of the Jewish rites, and that if he had ever taught differently, he must new have changed his opinion. Paul, therefore, begins the discussion by denying this in the most solemn manner. He affirms that the gospel which he had at first preached to them was the true gospel. It contained the great doctrines of salvation. It was to be regarded by them as a fixed and settled point, that there was no other way of salvation but by the merits of the Saviour. No matter who taught anything else; no matter though it be alleged that he had changed his mind; no matter even though he should preach another gospel; and no matter though an angel from heaven should declare any other mode of salvation, it was to be held as a fixed and settled position, that the true gospel had been preached to them at first. We are not to suppose that Paul admitted that he had changed his mind, or that the inferences of the false teachers there were well-founded; but we are to understand this as affirming, in the most solemn manner, that the true gospel, and the only method of salvation, had been preached among them at first.

Or an angel from heaven. This is a very strong rhetorical mode of expression. It is not to be supposed that an angel from heaven would preach any other than the true gospel. But Paul wishes to put the strongest possible case, and to affirm, in the strongest manner possible, that the true gospel had been preached to them. The great system of salvation had been taught; and no other was to be admitted�"no matter who preached it, no matter what the character or rank of the preacher, and no matter with what imposing claims he came. It follows from this, that the mere rank, character, talent, eloquence, or piety of a preacher, does not of necessity give his doctrine a claim to our belief, or prove that his gospel is true. Great talents maybe prostituted; and great sanctity of manner, and even holiness of character, may be in error; and no matter what may be the rank, and talents, and eloquence, and piety of the preacher, if he does not accord with the gospel which was first preached, he is to be held accursed.

Preach any other gospel, etc. See Barnes "Ga 1:6".

Any gospel that differs from that which was first preached to you; any system of doctrines which goes to deny the necessity of simple dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

Let him be accursed. Greek, anayema, (anathema.) On the meaning of this word, See Barnes "1 Co 12:3" See Barnes "1 Co 16:22".

It is not improperly here rendered "accursed," or "devoted to destruction." The object of Paul is to express the greatest possible abhorrence of any other doctrine than that which he had himself preached. So great was his detestation of it, that, says Luther, "he casteth out very flames of fire; and his zeal is so fervent, that he beginneth almost to curse the angels." It follows from this,

(1.) that any other doctrine than that which is proclaimed in the Bible on the subject of justification, is to be rejected and treated with abhorrence, no matter what the.rank, talent, or eloquence of him who defends it.

(2.) That we are not to patronize or countenance such preachers. No matter what their zeal, or their apparent sincerity, or their apparent sanctity, or their apparent success, or their real boldness in rebuking vice, we are to withdraw from them. "Cease, my son," said Solomon, "to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge," Pr 19:27. Especially are we to withdraw wholly from that instruction which goes to deny the great doctrines of salvation�"that pure gospel which the Lord Jesus and the apostle taught. If Paul would regard even an angel as doomed to destruction, and as held accursed, should he preach any other doctrine, assuredly ice should not be found to lend our countenance to it, nor should we patronize it by attending on such a ministry. Who would desire to attend on the ministry of even an angel, if he was to be held accursed? How much less the ministry of a man preaching the same doctrine! It does not follow from this, however, that we are to treat others with severity of language, or with the language of cursing. They must answer to God. We are to withdraw from their teaching; we are to regard the doctrines with abhorrence; and we are not to lend our countenance to them. To their own Master they stand or fall; but what must be the doom of a teacher whom an inspired man has said should be regarded as "ACCURSED!" It may be added, how responsible is the ministerial office! How fearful the account which the ministers of religion must render! How much prayer, and study, and effort are needed that they may be able to understand the true gospel, and that they may not be led into error, or lead others into error!


Verse 9. As we said before. That is, in the previous verse. It is equivalent to saying, "As I have just said." See 2 Co 7:3. It cannot be supposed that he had said this when he was with them, as it cannot be believed that he then anticipated that his doctrines would be perverted, and that another gospel would be preached to them. The sentiment of Ga 1:8 is here repeated on account of its importance. It is common in the Scriptures, as indeed it is everywhere else, to repeat a declaration in order to deepen the impression of its importance and its truth. Paul would not be misunderstood on this point. He would leave no doubt as to his meaning. He would not have it supposed that he had uttered the sentiment in Ga 1:8 hastily; and he therefore repeats it with emphasis.

Than that ye have received. In the previous verse it is, "that which we have preached." By this change in the phraseology he designs, probably, to remind them that they had once solemnly professed to embrace that system. It had not only been preached to them, it had been embraced by them. The teachers of the new system, therefore, were really in opposition to the once avowed sentiments of the Galatians; to what they knew to be true. They were not only to be held accursed, therefore, because Paul so declared, but because they preached what the Galatians themselves knew to be false, or what was contrary to that which they had themselves professed to be true.

{b} "other gospel" De 4:2; Re 22:18


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.

{c} "to please men" 2 Co 12:19; 1 Th 2:4

{d} "be the servant of Christ" Jas 4:4


Verse 11. But I certify you. I make known to you; or, I declare to you. See 1 Co 15:1. Doubtless this had been known to them before, but he now assures them of it, and goes into an extended illustration to show them that he had not received his authority from man to preach the gospel. To state and prove this is the main design of this chapter.

Is not after man. Greek, not according to man. See Ga 1:1. That is, he was not appointed by man, nor had he any human instructor to make known to him what the gospel was. He had neither received it from man, nor had it been debased or adulterated by any human admixtures. He had received it directly from the Lord Jesus.

{*} "certify" "declare to"


Verse 12. For I neither received it of man. This is very probably said in reply to his opponents, who had maintained that Paul had derived his knowledge of the gospel from other men, as he had not been personally known to the Lord Jesus, or been of the number of those whom he called to be his apostles. In reply to this, he says, that he did not receive his gospel in any way from man.

Neither was I taught it. That is, by man. He was not taught it by any written account of it, or by the instruction of man in any way. The only plausible objection to this statement which could be urged would be the fact that Paul had an interview with Ananias Ac 9:17 before his baptism, and that he would probably receive instructions from him. But to this it may be replied,

(1.) that there is no evidence that Ananias went into an explanation of the nature of the Christian religion in his interview with Paul;

(2.) Paul had before this been taught what Christianity was by his interview with the Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus, Ac 9:5; 26:14-18;

(3.) the purpose for which Ananias was sent to him in Damascus was that he might receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, Ac 9:17. Whatever instructions he may have received through Ananias, it is still true that his call was directly from the Lord Jesus, and his information of the nature of Christianity from his revelation.

But by the revelation of Jesus Christ. On his way to Damascus, and subsequently in the temple, Ac 22:17-21. Doubtless he received communications at various times from the Lord Jesus with regard to the nature of the gospel and his duty, The sense here is, that he was not indebted to men for his knowledge of the gospel, but had derived it entirely from the Saviour.

{a} "I neither received" 1 Co 15:1-3

{b} "revelation" Eph 3:3


Verse 13. For ye have heard of my conversation. My conduct, my mode of life, my deportment. See Barnes "2 Co 1:12".

Probably Paul had himself made them acquainted with the events of his early years. The reason why he refers to this is to show them that he had not derived his knowledge of the Christian religion from any instruction which he had received in his early years, or any acquaintance which he had formed with the apostles, he had at first been decidedly opposed to the Lord Jesus, and had been converted only by his wonderful grace.

In the Jews' religion. In the belief and practice of Judaism; that is, as it was understood in the time when he was educated. It was not merely in the religion of Moses, but it was in that religion as understood and practised by the Jews in his time, when opposition to Christianity constituted a very material part of it. In that religion Paul proceeds to show that he had been more distinguished than most persons of his time.

How that beyond measure. In the highest possible degree; beyond all limits or bounds; exceedingly. The phrase which Paul here uses, kay uperbolhn by hyperbole, is one which he frequently employs to denote anything that is excessive, or that cannot be expressed by ordinary language. See the Greek in Ro 7:13; 1 Co 12:31; 2 Co 1:8; 4:7,17.

I persecuted the church. See Ac 8:3; 9:1.

And wasted it. Destroyed it. The word which is here used means, properly, to waste or destroy, as when a city or country is ravaged by an army or by wild beasts. His purpose was to utterly to root out and destroy the Christian religion.

{++} "beyond measure" "exceedingly"

{c} "church of God" Ac 8:1,3; 9:1,2; 26:9

{&} "wasted it" "laid it waste"


Verse 14. And profited. Made advances and attainments. He made advances not only in the knowledge of the Jewish religion, but also he surpassed others in his zeal in defending its interests, he had had better advantages than most of his countrymen; and by his great zeal and characteristic ardour, he had been able to make higher attainments than most others had done.

Above many my equals. Marg. equals in years. This is the true sense of the original. It means that he surpassed those of the same age with himself. Possibly there may be a reference here to those of the same age who attended with him on the instructions of Gamaliel.

Being more exceedingly zealous. More studious of; more ardently attached to them; more anxious to distinguish himself in attainments in the religion in which he was brought up. All this is fully sustained by all that we know of the character of Paul, as at all times a man of singular and eminent zeal in all that he undertook.

Of the traditions of my fathers. Of the traditions of the Jews. See Barnes "Mt 15:2".

A large part of the doctrines of the Pharisees depended on mere tradition; and Paul doubtless made this a special matter of study, and was particularly tenacious in regard to it. It was to be learned, from the very nature of it, only by oral teaching, as there is no evidence that it was then recorded. Subsequently these traditions were recorded in the Mishna, and are found in the Jewish writings. But in the time of Paul they were to be learned as they were handed down from one to another; and hence the utmost diligence was requisite to obtain a knowledge of them. Paul does not here say that he was zealous then for the practice of the new religion, nor for the study of the Bible. His object in going to Jerusalem, and studying at the feet of Gamaliel, was doubtless to obtain a knowledge of the traditions of the sect of the Pharisees. Had he been studying the Bible all that time, he would have kept from the fiery zeal which he evinced in persecuting the church, and would, if he had studied it right, have been saved from much trouble of conscience afterwards.

{|} "profited" "Made a proficiency"

{1} "my equals" "equals in years"

{d} "being more exceedingly zealous" Ac 22:3; Php 3:6

{e} "traditions" Mr 7:5-13


Verse 15. But when it pleased God. Paul traced all his hopes of eternal life, and all the good influences which had ever borne upon his mind, to God.

Who separated me, etc. That is, who destined me; or who purposed from my very birth that I should be a preacher and an apostle. The meaning is, that God had in his secret purposes set him apart to be an apostle. It does not mean that he had actually called him in his infancy to the work, for this was not so, but that he designed him to be an important instrument in his hands in spreading the true religion. Jeremiah Jer 1:5 was thus set apart, and John the Baptist was thus early designated, for the work which they afterwards performed. It follows from this,

(1.) that God often, if not always, has purposes in regard to men from their very birth. He designs them for some important field of labour, and endows them at their creation with talents adapted to that.

(2.) It does not follow that because a young man has gone far astray; and has become even a blasphemer and a persecutor, that God has not destined him to some important and holy work in his service. How many men have been called, like Paul, and Newton, and Bunyan, and Augustine, from a life of sin to the service of God.

(3.) God is often training up men in a remarkable manner for future usefulness. His eye is upon them, and he watches over them, until the time comes for their conversion, His providence was concerned in the education and training of Paul. It was by the Divine intention with reference to his future work that he had so many opportunities of education, and was so well acquainted with the "traditions" of that religion which he was yet to demonstrate to be unfounded and false, he gave him the opportunity to cultivate his mind, and prepare to grapple with the Jew in argument, and show him how unfounded were his hopes. So it is often now. He gives to a young man an opportunity of a finished education. Perhaps he suffers him to fall into the snares of infidelity, and to become familiar with the arguments of skeptics, that he may thus be better prepared to meet their sophisms, and to enter into their feelings, His eye is upon them in their wanderings, and they are suffered often to wander far; to range the fields of science; to become distinguished as scholars, as Paul was; until the time comes for their conversion, and then, in accordance with the purpose which set them apart from the world, God converts them, and consecrates all their talents and attainments to his service.

(4.) We should never despair of a young man who has wandered far from God. If he has risen high in attainments; if his whole aim is ambition; or if he has become an infidel, still we are not to despair of him. It is possible still that God "separated" that talent to his service from the very birth, and that he means yet to call it all to his service, how easy it was to convert Saul of Tarsus when the proper period arrived. So it is of the now unconverted and unconsecrated, but cultivated talent among the young men of our land. Far as they may have wandered from God and virtue, yet much of that talent has been devoted to him in baptism, and by parental purposes and prayers; and, it may be�"as is morally certain from the history of the past�"that much of it is consecrated also by the Divine purpose and intention for the noble cause of virtue and pure religion. In that now apparently wasted talent; in that learning now apparently devoted to other aims and ends, there is much that will

And called me by his grace. On the way to Damascus. It was special grace, because he was then engaged in bitterly opposing him and his cause.

{f} "pleased God" Isa 49:1; Jer 1:5; Ac 13:2; 22:14,15; Ro 1:1


Verse 16. To reveal his Son in me. This is to be regarded as connected with the first part of Ga 1:15: "When it pleased God to reveal his Son in me," i.e., on the way to Damascus. The phrase evidently means, to make me acquainted with the Lord Jesus, or to reveal his Son to me. Comp. the Greek in Mt 10:32, for a similar expression. The revelation here referred to was the miraculous manifestation which was made to Paul on his way to Damascus. Compare 2 Co 4:6. That revelation was in order to convince him that he was the Messiah; to acquaint him with his nature, rank, and claims; and to qualify him to be a preacher to the heathen.

That I might preach him. In order that I might so preach him; or with a view to my being appointed to this work. This was the leading purpose for which Paul was converted, Ac 9:15; 22:21.

The heathen. The Gentiles; the portion of the world that was not Jewish, or that was destitute of the true religion.

Immediately. Koppe supposes that this is to be connected with, "I went into Arabia," Ga 1:17. Rosenmuller supposes it means, "Immediately I consented." Dr. Wells and Locke suppose that it refers to the fact that he immediately went to Arabia. But this seems to me to be an unnatural construction. The words are too remote from each other to allow of it. The evident sense is, that he was at once decided. He did not take time to deliberate whether he should or should not become a Christian. He made up his mind at once, and on the spot. He did not consult with any one; he did not ask advice of any one; he did not wait to be instructed by any one. He was convinced by the vision in an overpowering manner that Jesus was the Messiah, and he yielded at once. The main idea is, that there was no delay, no consultation, no deferring it, that he might see and consult with his friends, or with the friends of Christianity. The object for which he dwells on this is to show that he did not receive his views of the gospel from man.

I conferred not. I did not lay the case prosaneyemhn before any man; I did not confer with any one.

Flesh and blood. Any human being: for so the phrase properly signifies. See Barnes "Mt 16:17".

This does not mean here that Paul did not consult his own ease and happiness; that he was regardless of the sufferings which he might be called to endure; that he was willing to suffer, and was not careful to make provision for his own comforts which was true in itself; but that he did not lay the case before any man, or any body of men, for instruction or advice, he acted promptly and decisively, he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, Ac 26:19 but resolved at once to obey. Many suppose that this passage means that Paul did not take counsel of the evil passions and suggestions of his own heart, or of the feelings which would have prompted him to lead a life of ambition, or a life under the influence of corrupt desires. But however true this was in fact, no such thing is intended here. It means simply that he did not take counsel of any human being, he resolved at once to follow the command of the Saviour, and at once to obey him. The passage shows,

(1.) that when the Lord Jesus calls us to follow him, we should promptly and decidedly obey.

(2.) We should not delay even to take counsel of earthly friends, or wait for human advice, or consult their wishes, but should at once resolve to follow the Lord Jesus. Most persons, when they are awakened to see their guilt, and their minds are impressed on the subject of religion, are prone to defer it; to resolve to think of it at some future time; or to engage in some other business before they become Christians; or, at least, they wish to finish what they have on hand before they yield to God. Had Paul pursued this course, he would probably never have become a Christian. It follows, therefore,

(3.) that when the Lord Jesus calls us, we should at once abandon any course of life, however pleasant, or any plan of ambition, however brilliant, or any scheme of gain, however promising, in order that we may follow him. What a brilliant career of ambition did Paul abandon! and how promptly and decidedly did he do it! tie did not pause or hesitate a moment; but, brilliant as were his prospects, he at once forsook all�"paused in mid-career in his ambition�"and, without consulting a human being, at once gave his heart to God. Such a course should be pursued by all. Such a promptness and decision will prepare one to become an eminent Christian, and to be eminently useful.

{a} "reveal his Son" 2 Co 4:6

{*} "in me" "to me"

{b} "that I might" Ac 9:15

{c} "not with flesh and blood" 2 Co 5:16


Verse 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem. That is, I did not go there at once. I did not go to consult with the apostles there, or to be instructed by them in regard to the nature of the Christian religion. The design of this statement is to show that in no sense did he derive his commission from man.

To them which were apostles before me. This implies that Paul then regarded himself to be an apostle. They were, he admits, apostles before he was; but he felt also that he had original authority with them, and he did not go to them to receive instruction, or to derive his commission from them. Several of the apostles remained in Jerusalem for a considerable time after the ascension of the Lord Jesus, and it was regarded as the principal place of authority. See Ac 15.

But I went into Arabia. Arabia was south of Damascus, and at no great distance. The line indeed between Arabia Deserts and Syria is not very definitely marked, but it is generally agreed that Arabia extends to a considerable distance into the great Syrian desert. To what part of Arabia, and for what purpose Paul went, is wholly unknown. Nothing is known of the circumstances of this journey; nor is the time which he spent there known. It is known, indeed, Ga 1:18, that he did not go to Jerusalem until three years after his conversion; but how large a part of this time was spent in Damascus we have no means of ascertaining. It is probable that Paul was engaged during these three years in preaching the gospel in Damascus and the adjacent regions, and in Arabia. Comp. Ac 9:20,22,27.

The account of this journey into Arabia is wholly omitted by Luke in the Acts of the apostles; and this fact, as has been remarked by Paley, (Horae Paulinae, chap. v. No. 2,) demonstrates that the Acts and this epistle were not written by the same author, or that the one is independent of the other; because, "if the Acts of the Apostles had been a forged history, made up from the epistle, it is impossible that this journey should have been passed over in silence; if the epistle had been composed out of what the author had read of St. Paul's history in the Acts, it is unaccountable that it should have been inserted." As to the reason why Luke omitted to mention the journey into Arabia, nothing is known. Various conjectures have been entertained, but they are mere conjectures. It is sufficient to say, that Luke has by no means recorded all that Paul or the other apostles did, nor has he pretended to do it. He has given the leading events in the public labours of Paul; and it is not at all improbable that he has omitted not a few short excursions made by him for the purpose of preaching the gospel. The journey into Arabia, probably, did not furnish any incidents in regard to the success of the gospel there which required particular record by the sacred historian; nor has Paul himself referred to it for any such reason, or intimated that it furnished any incidents or any facts that required particularly the notice of the historian. He has mentioned it for a different purpose altogether�"to show that he did not receive his commission from the apostles, and that he did not go at once to consult them. He went directly the other way. As Luke, in the Acts, had no occasion to illustrate this, as he had no occasion to refer to this argument, it did not fall in with his design to mention the fact. Nor is it-known why Paul went into Arabia. Bloomfield supposes that it was in order to recover his health after the calamity which he suffered on the way to Damascus. But everything in regard to this is mere conjecture. I should rather think it was more in accordance with the general character of Paul that he made this short excursion for the purpose of preaching the gospel.

And returned again unto Damascus. He did not go to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles after his visit to Arabia, but returned again to the place where he was converted, and preached there, showing that he had not derived his commission from the other apostles.


Verse 18. Then after three years. Probably three years after his departure from Jerusalem to Damascus, not after his return to Arabia. So most commentators have understood it.

Went up to Jerusalem. More correctly, as in the margin, returned.

To see Peter. Peter was the oldest and most distinguished of the apostles. In Ga 2:9, he, with James and John, is called a pillar. But why Paul went particularly to see him is not known. It was probably, however, from the celebrity and distinction which he knew Peter had among the apostles that he wished to become particularly acquainted with him. The word which is here rendered to see, istorhsai is by no means that which is commonly employed to denote that idea. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; and properly means, to ascertain by personal inquiry and examination, and then to narrate, as an historian was accustomed to do, whence our word history. The notion of personally seeing and examining is one that belongs essentially to the word, and the idea here is that of seeing or visiting Peter in order to a personal acquaintance.

And abode with him fifteen days. Probably, says Bloomfield, including three Lord's days. Why he departed then is unknown. Beza supposes that it was on account of the plots of the Grecians against him, and their intention to destroy him, Ac 9:29; but this is not assigned by Paul himself as a reason. It is probable that the purpose of his visit to Peter would be accomplished in that time, and he would not spend more time than was necessary with him. It is clear that in the short space of two weeks he could not have been very extensively taught by Peter the nature of the Christian religion, and probably the time is mentioned here to show that he had not been under the teaching of the apostles.

{a} "Then after three years" Ac 9:26

{1} "I went" "returned"


Verse 19. Save James the Lord's brother. That the James here referred to was an apostle is clear. The whole construction of the sentence demands this supposition. In the list of the apostles in Mt 10:2,3, two of this name are mentioned, James the son of Zebedee and brother of John, and James the son of Alphaeus. From the Acts of the Apostles it is clear that there were two of this name in Jerusalem. Of these, James the brother of John was slain by Herod, Ac 12:2 and the other continued to reside in Jerusalem, Ac 15:13; 21:13. This latter James was called James the Less, Mr 15:40 to distinguish him from the other James, probably because he was the younger. It is probable that this was the James referred to here, as it is evident from the Acts of the Apostles that he was a prominent man among the apostles in Jerusalem. Commentators have not been agreed as to what is meant by his being the brother of the Lord Jesus. Doddridge understands it as meaning that he was "the near kinsman" or cousin-german to Jesus; for he was, says he, the son of Alphaeus and Mary, the sister of the virgin; and if there were but two of this name, this opinion is undoubtedly correct. In the Apostolical Constitutions (see Rosenmuller) three of this name are mentioned as apostles or eminent men in Jerusalem; and hence many have supposed that one of them was the son of Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus. It is said Mt 13:55 that the brothers of Jesus were James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas; and it is remarkable that three of the apostles bear the same names �"James the son of Alphaeus, Simon Zelotes, and Judas, Joh 14:22. It is indeed possible, as Bloomfield remarks, that three brothers of our Lord and three of his apostles might bear the same names, and yet be different persons; but such a coincidence would be very remarkable, and not easily explained. But if it were not so, then the James here was the son of Alphaeus, and consequently a cousin of the Lord Jesus. The word brother may, according to Scripture usage, be understood as denoting a near kinsman. See Schleusner (Lex. 2) on the word adelfov. After all, however, it is not quite certain who is intended. Some have supposed that neither of the apostles of the name of James is intended, but another James who was the son of Mary the mother of Jesus. See Koppe, in loc. But it is clear, I think, that one of the apostles is intended. Why James is particularly mentioned here is unknown. As, however, he was a prominent man in Jerusalem, Paul would naturally seek his acquaintance. It is possible that the other apostles were absent from Jerusalem during the fifteen days when he was there.

{*} "save" "except"

{b} "James the Lord's brother" Mr 6:3


Verse 20. Behold, before God, I lie not. This is an oath, or a solemn appeal to God. See Note, Ro 9:1. The design of this oath here is to prevent all suspicion of falsehood. It may seem to be remarkable that Paul should make this solemn appeal to God in this argument, and in the narrative of a plain fact, when his statement could hardly be called in question by any one. But we may remark,

(1.) that the oath here refers not only to the fact that he was with Peter and James but fifteen days, but to the entire group of facts to which he had referred in this chapter. "The things which I write unto you." It included, therefore, the narrative about his conversion, and the direct revelation which he had from the Lord Jesus.

(2.) There were no witnesses which he could appeal to in this case, and he could therefore only appeal to God. It was probably not practicable for him to appeal to Peter or James, as neither of them were in Galatia, and a considerable part of the transactions here referred to occurred where there were no witnesses. It pertained to the direct revelation of truth from the Lord Jesus. The only way, therefore, was for Paul to appeal directly to God for the truth of what he said.

(3.) The importance of the truth here affirmed was such as to justify this solemn appeal to God. It was an extraordinary and miraculous revelation of the truth by Jesus Christ himself. He received information of the truth of Christianity from no human being. He had consulted no one in regard to its nature. That fact was so extraordinary, and it was so remarkable that the system thus communicated to him should harmonize so entirely with that taught by the other apostles with whom he had had no intercourse, that it was not improper to appeal to God in this solemn manner. It was, therefore, no trifling matter in which Paul appealed to God; and a solemn appeal of the same nature, and in the same circumstances, can never be improper.


Verse 21. Afterwards I came, etc. In this account he has omitted a circumstance recorded by Luke, Ac 9:29 of the controversy which he had with the Grecians or Hellenists, It was not material to the purpose which he has here in view, which is to state that he was not indebted to the apostles for his knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity. He therefore merely states that he left Jerusalem soon after he went there, and travelled to other places.

The regions of Syria. Syria was between Jerusalem and Cilicia. Antioch was the capital of Syria, and in that city and the adjacent places he spent considerable time. Comp. Ac 15:23,41.

Cilicia. This was a province of Asia Minor, of which Tarsus, the native place of Paul, was the capital. See Barnes "Ac 6:9".

{c} "I came" Ac 9:30


Verse 22. And was unknown by face, etc. Paul had visited Jerusalem only, and he had formed no acquaintance with any of the churches in the other parts of Judea. He regarded himself at the first as called to preach particularly to the Gentiles, and he did not remain even to form an acquaintance with the Christians in Judea.

The churches of Judea. Those which were out of Jerusalem. Even at the early period of the conversion of Paul, there were doubtless many churches in various parts of the land.

Which were in Christ. United to Christ; or which were Christian churches. The design of mentioning this is to show that he had not derived his views of the gospel from any of them. He had neither been instructed by the apostles, nor was he indebted to the Christians in Judea for his knowledge of the Christian religion.

{d} "churches of Judea" 1 Th 2:14


But they had heard only, etc. They had not seen me; but the remarkable fact of my conversions had been reported to them. It was a fact that they could hardly be concealed. See Barnes "Ac 26:26".

{a} "heard only" Ac 9:13,26; 1 Ti 1:13-16


Verse 24. And they glorified God in me. They praised God on my account. They regarded me as a true convert and a sincere Christian; and they praised God that he had converted such a persecutor, and had made him a preacher of the gospel. The design for which this is mentioned is to show that though he was personally unknown to them, and had not derived his views of the gospel from them, yet that he had their entire confidence. They regarded him as a convert and an apostle, and they were disposed to praise God for his conversion. This fact would do much to conciliate the favour of the Galatians, by showing them that he had the confidence of the churches in the very-land where the gospel was first planted, and which was regarded as the source of ecclesiastical authority. In view of this we may remark,

(1.) that it is the duty of Christians kindly and affectionately to receive among their number those who have been converted from a career of persecution or of sin in any form. And it is always done by true Christians. It is easy to forgive a man who has been actively engaged in persecuting the church, or a man who has been profane, intemperate, dishonest, or licentious, if he becomes a true penitent, and confesses and forsakes his sins. No matter what his life has been; no matter how abandoned, sensual, or devilish; if he manifests true sorrow, and gives evidence of a change of heart, he is cordially received into any church, and welcomed as a fellow-labourer in the cause which he once destroyed. Here, at least, is one place where forgiveness is cordial and perfect. his former life is not remembered, except to praise God for his grace in recovering a sinner from such a course; the evils that he has done are forgotten; and he is henceforward regarded as entitled to all the privileges and immunities of a member of the household of faith. There is not on earth an infuriated persecutor or blasphemer who would not be cordially welcomed to any Christian church on the evidence of his repentance; not a man so debased and vile, that the most pure, and elevated, and learned, and wealthy Christians would not rejoice to sit down with him at the same communion table, on the evidence of his conversion to God.

(2.) We should "glorify" or praise God for all such instances of conversion. We should do it because

(a) of the abstraction of the talents of the persecutor from the cause of evil. Paul could have done, and would have done, immense service to the enemies of Christianity, if he had pursued the career which he had commenced. But when he was converted, all that bad influence ceased. So when an infidel or a profligate man is converted now.

(b) Because now his talents will be consecrated to a better service. They will be employed in the cause of truth and salvation. All the power of the matured and educated talent will now be devoted to the interests of religion; and it is a fact for which we should thank God, that he often takes educated talent, and commanding influence, and an established reputation for ability, learning, and zeal, and devotes it to his own service.

(c) Because there will be a change of destiny; because the enemy of the Redeemer will now be saved. The moment when Saul of Tarsus was converted, was the moment which determined a change in his eternal destiny. Before, he was in the broad way to hell; henceforward he walked in the path of life and salvation. Thus we should always rejoice over a sinner returning from the error of his ways; and should praise God that he who was in danger of eternal ruin is now an heir of glory. Christians are not jealous in regard to the numbers who shall enter heaven. They feel that there is "room" for all; that the feast is ample for all; and they rejoice when any can be induced to come with them and partake of the happiness of heaven.

(3.) We may still glorify and praise God for the grace manifested in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. What does not the world owe to him! What do we not owe to him! No man did as much in establishing the Christian religion as he did; no one among the apostles was the means of converting and saving so many souls; no one has left so many and so valuable writings for the edification of the church. To him we owe the invaluable epistles�"so full of truth, and eloquence, and promises, and consolations�"on which we are commenting; and to him the church owes, under God, some of its most elevated and ennobling views of the nature of Christian doctrine and duty. After the lapse, therefore, of eighteen hundred years, we should not cease to glorify God for the conversion of this wonderful man; and should feel that we have cause of thankfulness that he changed the infuriated persecutor to a holy and devoted apostle.

(4.) Let us remember that God has the same power now. There is not a persecutor whom he could not convert with the same ease with which he changed Saul of Tarsus. There is not a vile and sensual man that he could not make pure; not a dishonest man that his grace could not make honest; not a blasphemer that he could not teach to venerate his name; not a lost and abandoned sinner that he cannot receive to himself. Let us, then, without ceasing cry unto him, that his grace may be continually manifested in reclaiming such sinners from the error of their ways, and bringing them to the knowledge of the truth, and to a consecration of their lives to his service.

{b} "glorified God" Ac 21:19,20




THE second chapter is closely connected in sense with the first, and is indeed a part of the same argument. Injury has been done by the division which is made. The proper division would have been at the close of the 10th verse of this chapter. The general scope of the chapter, like the first, is to show that he did not receive the gospel from man; that he had not derived it from the apostles; that he did not acknowledge his indebtedness to them for his views of the Christian religion; that they had not even set up authority over him; but that they had welcomed him as a fellow-labourer, and acknowledged him as a coadjutor in the work of the apostleship. In confirmation of this he states Ga 2:1 that he had indeed gone to Jerusalem, but that he had done it by express revelation, Ga 2:2; that he was cordially received by the apostles there�"especially by those who were pillars in the church; and that so far from regarding himself as inferior to the other apostles, he had resisted Peter to his face at Antioch on a most important and vital doctrine.

The chapter, therefore, may be regarded as divided into two portions, viz.:

I. The account of his visit to Jerusalem, and of what occurred there, Ga 2:1-10.

(a) He had gone up fourteen years after his conversion, after having laboured long among the Gentiles in his own way, and without having felt his dependence on the apostles at Jerusalem, Ga 2:1,2.

(b) When he was there, there was no attempt made to compel him to submit to the Jewish rites and customs; and what was conclusive in the case was, that they had not even required Titus to be circumcised, thus proving that they did not assert jurisdiction over Paul, and that they did not intend to impose the Mosaic rites on the converts from among the Gentiles, Ga 2:3-5.

(c) The most distinguished persons among the apostles at Jerusalem, he says, received him kindly, and admitted him to their confidence and favour without hesitation. They added no heavy burdens to him, Ga 2:6; they saw evidence that he had been appointed to bear the gospel to the Gentiles, Ga 2:7,8; they gave to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, Ga 2:9; and they asked only that they should remember and show kindness to the poor saints in Judea, and thus manifest an interest in those who had been converted from Judaism, or contribute their proper proportion to the maintenance of all, and show that they were not disposed to abandon their own countrymen, Ga 2:10. In this way they gave the fullest proof that they approved the course of Paul, and admitted him into entire fellowship with them as an apostle.

II. The scene at Antioch, where Paul rebuked Peter for his dissimulation, Ga 2:11-21. The main object of mentioning this seems to be to show, first, that he did not regard himself as inferior to the other apostles, or that he had not derived his views of the gospel from them; and, secondly, to state that the observance of the Jewish rites was not necessary to salvation, and that he had maintained that from the beginning, he had strongly urged it in a controversy with Peter, and in a case where Peter was manifestly wrong; and it was no new doctrine on the subject of justification which he had preached to the Galatians. He states, therefore,

(a) That he had opposed Peter at Antioch, because he had dissembled there, and that even Barnabas had been carried away with the course which Peter had practised, Ga 2:11-14.

(b) That the Jews must be justified by faith, and not by dependence on their own law, Ga 2:15,16.

(c) That they who are justified by faith should act consistently, and not attempt to build again the things which they had destroyed, Ga 2:17,18.

(d) That the effect of justification by faith was to make one dead to the law that he might live unto God; that the effect of it was to make one truly alive and devoted to the cause of true religion; and to show this, he appeals to the effect on his own heart and life, Ga 2:19,20.

(e) And that if justification could be obtained by the law, then Christ had died in vain, Ga 2:21. he thus shows that the effect of teaching the necessity of the observance of the Jewish rites was to destroy the gospel, and to render it vain and useless.

Verse 1. Then, fourteen years after. That is, fourteen years after his first visit there subsequent to his conversion. Some commentators, however, suppose that the date of the fourteen years is to be reckoned from his conversion. But the more obvious construction is to refer it to the time of his visit there, as recorded in the previous chapter, Ga 2:18. This time was spent in Asia Minor, chiefly in preaching the gospel.

I went up again to Jerusalem. It is commonly supposed that Paul here refers to the visit which he made as recorded in Ac 20. The circumstances mentioned are substantially the same; and the object which he had at that time in going up was one whose mention was entirely pertinent to the argument here. He went up with Barnabas to submit a question to the assembled apostles and elders at Jerusalem in regard to the necessity of the observance of the laws of Moses. Some persons who had come among the Gentile converts from Judea had insisted on the necessity of being circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had opposed them; and the dispute had become so warm that it was agreed to submit the subject to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. For that purpose Paul and Barnabas had been sent, with certain others, to lay the case before all the apostles. As the question which Paul was discussing in this epistle was about the necessity of the observance of the laws of Moses in order to justification, it was exactly in point to refer to a journey when this very question had been submitted to the apostles. Paul indeed had made another journey to Jerusalem before this, with the collection for the poor saints in Judea, Ac 11:29,30; 12:25; but he does not mention that here, probably because he did not then see the other apostles, or more probably because that journey furnished no illustration of the point now under debate. On the occasion here referred to, Ac 15 the very point under discussion here constituted the main subject of inquiry, and was definitely settled.

And took Titus with me also. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, Ac 15:2, says that there were others with Paul and Barnabas on that journey to Jerusalem. But who they were he does not mention. It is by no means certain that Titus was appointed by the church to go to Jerusalem; but the contrary is more probable. Paul seems to have taken him with him as a private affair; but the reason is not mentioned. It may have been to show his Christian liberty, and his sense of what he had a right to do; or it may have been to furnish a case on the subject of inquiry, and submit the matter to them whether Titus was to be circumcised. Hie was a Greek; but he had been converted to Christianity. Paul had not circumcised him; but had admitted him to the full privileges of the Christian church. Here, then, was a case in point; and it may have been important to have had such a case before them that they might fully understand it. This, as Doddridge properly remarks, is the first mention which occurs of Titus. He is not mentioned by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles; and though his name occurs several times in the second epistle to the Corinthians, 2 Co 2:13; 7:6; 8:6,16,23; 12:18, yet it is to be remembered that that epistle was written a considerable time after this to the Galatians. Titus was a Greek, and was doubtless converted by the labours of Paul, for he calls him his own son, Tit 1:4. He attended Paul frequently in his travels; was employed by him in important services, (see 2 Co. in the places referred to above;) was left by him in Crete to set in order the things that were wanting, and to ordain elders there, Tit 1:5; subsequently he went into Dalmatia, 2 Ti 4:10, and is supposed to have returned again to Crete, whence it is said he propagated the gospel in the neighbouring islands, and died at the age of ninety-four.�"Calmet.

{a} "fourteen years after, I went" Ac 15:2


Verse 2. And I went up by revelation. Not for the purpose of receiving instruction from the apostles there in regard to the nature of the Christian religion. It is to be remembered that the design for which Paul states this is to show that he had not received the gospel from men. He is careful, therefore, to state that he went up by the express command of God. He did not go up to receive instructions from the apostles there in regard to his own work, or to be confirmed by them in his apostolic office; but he went to submit an important question pertaining to the church at large. In Ac 15:2, it is said that Paul and Barnabas went up by the appointment of the church at Antioch. But there is no discrepancy between that account and this; for though he was designated by the church there, there is no improbability in supposing that he was directed by a special revelation to comply with their request. The reason why he says that he went up by direct revelation seems to be, to show that he did not seek instruction from the apostles; he did not go of his own accord to consult with them, as if he were dependent on them; but even in a case when he went to advise with them he was under the influence of express and direct revelation, proving that he was as much commissioned by God as they were.

And communicated unto them that gospel, etc. Made them acquainted with the doctrines which he preached among the heathen. He stated fully the principles on which he acted; the nature of the gospel which he taught; and his doctrine about the exemption of the Gentiles from the obligations of the law of Moses. He thus satisfied them in regard to his views of the gospel; and showed them that he understood the system of Christianity which had been revealed. The result was, that they had entire confidence in him, and admitted him to entire fellowship with them, Ga 2:9.

But privately. Marg., severally. Gr., kat idian . The phrase means, that he did it not in a public manner; not before a promiscuous assembly; not even before all the apostles collected together, but in a private manner to a few of the leaders and chief persons, he made a private explanation of his motives and views, that they might understand it before it became a matter of public discussion. The point on which Paul made this private explanation was not whether the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, for on that they had no doubt after the revelation to Peter, Ac 10; but whether the rites of the Jews were to be imposed on the Gentile converts. Paul explained his views and his practice on that point, which were, that he did not impose those rites on the Gentiles; that he taught that men might be justified without their observance; and that they were not necessary in order to salvation. The reasons why he sought this private interview with the leading men in Jerusalem he has not stated; but we may suppose that they were something like the following:

(1.) The Jews in general had very strong attachment to their own customs, and this attachment was found in a high degree among those who were converted from among them to the Christian faith. They would be strongly excited, therefore, by the doctrine that those customs were not necessary to be observed.

(2.) If the matter were submitted to a promiscuous assembly of converts from Judaism, it could not fail to produce great excitement. They could not be made readily to understand the reasons why Paul acted in this manner; there would be no possibility in an excited assemblage to offer the explanations which might be desirable; and after every explanation which could be given in this manner, they might have been unable to understand all the circumstances of the case.

(3.) If a few of the principal men were made to understand it, Paul felt assured that their influence would be such as to prevent any great difficulty, he therefore sought an early opportunity to lay the case before them in private, and to secure their favour; and this course contributed to the happy issue of the whole affair. See Ac 15. There was indeed much disputation when the question came to be submitted to "the apostles and elders," Ac 15:7; many of the sect of the Pharisees in that assembly maintained that it was needful to teach the Gentiles that the law of Moses was to be kept, Ac 15:5; and no one can tell what would have been the issue of that discussion among the excitable minds of the converts from Judaism, had not Paul taken the precaution, as he here says, to have submitted the case in private to those who were of "reputation," and if Peter and James had not in this manner been satisfied, and had not submitted the views which they did, as recorded in Ac 15:7-21, and which terminated the whole controversy. We may just remark here, that this fact furnishes an Horae Paulinae�"though he has hot referred to this�"of what he calls undesigned coincidences. The affair in Ac 15, and the course of the debate, looks very much as if Peter and James had had some conference with Paul in private, and had had an opportunity of understanding fully his views on the subject before the matter came before the "apostles and elders" in public, though no such private conference is there referred to by Luke. But on turning to the epistle to the Galatians, we find in fact that he had on one occasion before seen the same Peter and James, Ga 1:18,19; and that he had had a private interview with those "of reputation" on these very points, and particularly that James, Peter, and John had approved his course, and given to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, Ga 2:9. Thus understood, the case here referred to was one of the most consummate instances of prudence that occurred in the life of Paul; and from this case we may learn,

(1.) that when a difficulty is to be settled involving great principles, and embracing a great many points, it is better to seek-an opportunity of private explanation than to submit it to a promiscuous multitude or to public debate. It is not well to attempt to settle important points when the passions of a promiscuous assembly may be excited, and where prejudices are strong. It is better to do it by private explanations, when there is an opportunity coolly to ask questions and to state the facts just as they are.

(2.) The importance of securing the countenance of influential men in a popular assembly; of having men in the assembly who would understand the whole case. It was morally certain that if such men as Peter and James were made to understand the case, there would be little difficulty in arriving at an amicable adjustment of the difficulty.

(3.) Though this passage does not refer to preaching the gospel in general, since the gospel here submitted to the men of reputation was the question referred to above, yet we may remark, that great prudence should be used in preaching; in stating truths that may excite prejudices, or when we have reason to apprehend prejudices; and that it is often best to preach the gospel to men of reputation kat idian separately, or privately. In this way the truth can be made to bear on the conscience; it may be better adapted to the character of the individual; he may put himself less in a state of defence, and guard himself less against the proper influences of truth. And especially is this true in conversing with persons on the subject of religion. It should be if possible alone, or privately. Almost any man may be approached on the subject of religion if it be done when he is alone, when he is at leisure, and if it be done in a kind spirit. Almost any man will become irritated if you address him personally in a promiscuous assembly, or even with his family around him. I have never in more than one or two instances been unkindly treated when I have addressed an individual on the subject of religion, if he was alone; and though a minister should never shrink from stating the truth, and should never be afraid of man, however exalted his rank, or great his talents, or vast his wealth, yet he will probably meet with most success when he discourses privately to "them which are of reputation."

To them which were of reputation. Meaning here the leading men among the apostles. Tindal renders this, "which are counted chief." Doddridge, "those of greatest note in the church.". The Greek is, literally, "those who seem;" more fully in Ga 2:6, "who seem to be something," i.e., who are persons of note, or who are distinguished,

Lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. Lest the effects of my labours and journeys should be lost. Paul feared that if he did not take this method of laying the case before them privately, they would not understand it. Others might misrepresent him, or their prejudices might be excited; and when the ease came before the assembled apostles and elders, a decision might be adopted which would go to prove that he had been entirely wrong in his views, or which would lead those whom he had taught to believe that he was, and which would greatly hinder and embarrass him in his future movements. In order to prevent this, therefore, and to secure a just decision, and one which would not hinder his future usefulness, he had sought this private interview, and thus his object was gained.

{1} "privately" "severally"

{b} "by any means" Php 2:16


Verse 3. But neither Titus, who was with me. Paul introduces this case of Titus undoubtedly to show that circumcision was not necessary to salvation. It was a case just in point, lie had gone up to Jerusalem with express reference to this question, here was a man whom he had admitted to the Christian church without circumcising him. He claimed that he had a right to do so; and that circumcision was not necessary in order to salvation. If it were necessary, it would have been proper that Titus should have been compelled to submit to it. But Paul says this was not demanded; or if demanded by any, the point was yielded, and he was not compelled to be circumcised. It is to be remembered that this was at Jerusalem; that it was a case submitted to the apostles there; and that consequently the determination of this case settled the whole controversy about the obligation of the Mosaic laws on the Gentile converts. It is quite evident from the whole statement here, that Paul did not intend that Titus should be circumcised; that he maintained that it was not necessary; and that he resisted it when it was demanded, Ga 2:4,5. Yet on another occasion he himself performed the act of circumcision on Timothy, Ac 16:3. But there is no inconsistency in his conduct. In the case of Titus it was demanded as a matter of right and as obligatory on him, and he resisted the principle as dangerous. In the case of Timothy, it was a voluntary compliance on his part with the usual customs of the Jews, where it was not pressed as a matter of obligation, and where it would not be understood as indispensable to salvation. No danger would follow from compliance with the custom, and it might do much to conciliate the favour of the Jews, and he therefore submitted to it. Paul would not have hesitated to have circumcised Titus in the same circumstances in which it was done to Timothy; but the circumstances were different; and when it was insisted on as a matter of principle and of obligation, it became a matter of principle and of obligation with him to oppose it.

Being a Greek. Born of Gentile parents, of course he had not been circumcised. Probably both his parents were Greeks. The case with Timothy was somewhat different. His mother was a Jewess, but his father was a Greek, Ac 16:3.

Was compelled to be circumcised. I think it is implied here that this was demanded and insisted on by some that he should be circumcised. It is also implied that Paul resisted it, and the point was yielded, thus settling the great and important principle that it was not necessary in order to salvation. Ga 2:5.

{*} "neither Titus" "Not even"


Verse 4. And that because of false brethren. Who these false brethren were is not certainly known; nor is it known whether he refers to those who were at Jerusalem, or to those who were at Antioch. It is probable that he refers to Judaizing Christians, or persons who claimed to be Christians and to have been converted from Judaism. Whether they were dissemblers and hypocrites, or whether they wore so imperfectly acquainted with Christianity, and so obstinate, opinionated, and perverse, though really in some respects good men, that they were conscientious in this, it is not easy to determine. It is clear, however, that they opposed the apostle Paul; that they regarded him as teaching dangerous doctrines; that they perverted and misstated his views; and that they claimed to have clearer views of the nature of the true religion than he had. Such adversaries he met everywhere, 2 Co 11:26; and it required all his tact and skill to meet their plausible representations. It is evident here that Paul is assigning a reason for something which he had done, and that reason was to counteract the influence of the "false brethren" in the case. But what is the thing concerning which he assigns a reason? It is commonly supposed to have been on account of the fact that he did not submit to the circumcision of Titus, and that he means to say that he resisted that in order to counteract their influence, and defeat their designs. But I would submit whether Ga 2:3 is not to be regarded as a parenthesis, and whether the fact for which he assigns a reason is not that he sought a private interview with the leading men among the apostles? Ga 2:2. The reason of his doing that would be obvious. In this way he could more easily counteract the influence of the false brethren, he could make a full statement of his doctrines, he could meet their inquiries, and anticipate the objections of his enemies, he could thus secure the influence of the leading apostles in his favour, and effectually prevent all the efforts of the false brethren to impose the Jewish rites on Gentile converts.

Unawares brought in. The word rendered "unawares" pareisaktouv is derived from a verb meaning to lead in by the side of others, to introduce along with others; and then to lead or bring in by stealth, to smuggle in.�"Robinson, Lex. The verb occurs nowhere in the New Testament but in 2 Pe 2:1, where it is applied to heresies, and is rendered, "who privily shall bring in." Here it refers probably to men who had been artfully introduced into the ministry, who made pretensions to piety, but who were either strangers to it, or who were greatly ignorant of the true nature of the Christian system; and who were disposed to take every advantage, and to impose on others the observance of the peculiar rites of the Mosaic economy. Into what they were brought, the apostle does not say. It may have been that they had been introduced into the ministry in this manner, (Doddridge;) or it may be that they were introduced into the "assembly" where the apostles were collected to deliberate on the subject.�"Chandler. I think it probable that Paul refers to the occurrences in Jerusalem, and that these false brethren had been introduced from Antioch or some other place where Paul had been preaching, or that they were persons whom his adversaries had introduced to demand that Titus should be circumcised, under the plausible pretence that the laws of Moses required it, but really in order that there might be such proof as they desired that this rite was to be imposed on the Gentile converts. If Paul was compelled to submit to this, if they could carry this point, it would be just such an instance as they needed, and would settle the whole inquiry, and prove that the Mosaic laws were to be imposed on the Gentile converts. This was the reason why Paul so strenuously opposed it.

To spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus. In the practice of the Christian religion. The liberty referred to was, doubtless, the liberty from the painful, expensive, and onerous rites of the Jewish religion. See Ga 5:1. Their object in spying out the liberty which Paul and others had, was, undoubtedly, to be witnesses of the fact that they did not observe the peculiar rites of the Mosaic system; to make report of it; to insist on their complying with those customs, and thus to secure the imposition of those rites On the Gentile converts. Their first object was to satisfy themselves of the fact that Paul did not insist on the observance of their customs; and then to secure, by the authority of the apostles, an injunction or order that Titus should be circumcised, and that Paul and the converts made under his ministry should be required to comply with those laws.

That they might bring us into bondage. Into bondage to the laws of Moses. See Barnes "Ac 15:10".

{a} "false brethren" Ac 15:1,24

{+} "brought in" "artfully introduced"

{b} "liberty" Ga 5:1-13

{c} "bondage" 2 Co 11:29; Ga 4:3,9


Verse 5. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour. We did not submit to this at all. We did not yield even for the shortest tune. We did not waver in our opposition to their demands, or in the slightest degree become subject to their wishes. We steadily opposed their claims, in order that the great principle might be for ever settled that the laws of Moses were not to be imposed as obligatory on the Gentile converts. This I take to be the clear and obvious sense of this passage, though there has been a great variety of opinions on it. A considerable number of Mss. omit the words oiv oude, "to whom neither," (see Mill, Koppe, and Griesbach,) and then the sense would be reversed, that Paul did yield to them for or after a short time, in order that he might in this way better consult the permanent interests of the gospel. This opinion has been gaining ground for the last century, that the passage here has been corrupted; but it is by no means confirmed. The ancient versions, the Syriac, the Vulgate, and the Arabic, accord with the usual reading of the text. So also do by far the largest portion of Mss.; and such, it seems to me, is the sense demanded by the connexion. Paul means, in the whole passage, to say, that a great principle was settled. That the question came up fairly whether the Mosaic rites were to be imposed on Gentile converts. That false brethren were introduced who demanded it; and that he steadily maintained his ground. He did not yield a moment. He felt that a great principle was involved; and though on all proper occasions he was willing to yield and to become all things to all men, yet here he did not court them, or temporize with them in the least. The phrase "by subjection" here means, that he did not suffer himself to be compelled to yield. The phrase "for an hour" is equivalent to the shortest period of time. He did not waver or yield at all.

That the truth of the gospel might continue with you. That the great principle of the Christian religion which had been taught you might continue, and that you might enjoy the full benefit of the pure gospel, without its being intermingled with any false views. Paul had defended these same Jews among the Galatians, and he now sought that the same views might be confirmed by the clear decision of the college of apostles at Jerusalem.


Verse 6. But of those who seemed to be somewhat. Ga 2:2. This undoubtedly refers to those who were the most eminent among the apostles at Jerusalem. There is an apparent harshness in our common translation, which is unnecessary. The word here used dokountwn denotes those who were thought to be, or who were, of reputation; that is, men who were of note and influence among the apostles. The object of referring to them here, is to show that he had the concurrence and approbation of the most eminent of the apostles to the course which he had pursued.

Whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me. Tindal renders this, "What they were in time passed, it maketh no matter to me." The idea seems to be this: Paul means to say, that whatever was their real rank and standing, it did not in the least affect his authority as an apostle, or his argument. While he rejoiced in their concurrence, and while he sought their approbation, yet he did not admit for a moment that he was inferior to them as an apostle, or dependent on them for the justness of his views. What they were, or what they might be thought to be, was immaterial to his claims as an apostle, and immaterial to the authority of his own views as an apostle. He had derived his gospel from the Lord Jesus; and he had the fullest assurance that his views were just. Paul makes this remark evidently in keeping with all that he had said, that he did not regard himself as in any manner dependent on them for his authority. He did not treat them with disrespect; but he did not regard them as having a right to claim an authority over him.

God accepteth no man's person. See Barnes "Ac 10:34; See Barnes "Ro 2:11".

This is a general truth, that God is not influenced in his judgment by a regard to the rank, or wealth, or external condition of any one. Its particular meaning here is, that the authority of the apostles was not to be measured, by their external rank, or by the measure of reputation which they had among men. If, therefore, it were to be admitted that he himself was not in circumstances of so much external honour as the other apostles, or that they were esteemed to be of more elevated rank than he was, still he did not admit that this gave them a claim to any higher authority. God was not influenced in his judgment by any such consideration; and Paul therefore claimed that all the apostles were in fact on a level in regard to their authority.

In conference. When I conferred with them, Ga 2:2. They did not then impose on me any new obligations; they did not communicate anything to me of which I was before ignorant.

{a} "seemed" Ga 6:3

{*} "somewhat" Of most reputation"

{b} "God accepteth" Ac 10:34; Ro 2:11

{+} "to be somewhat" "of reputation"


Verse 7. The gospel of the uncircumcision. The duty of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised part of the world; that is, to the Gentiles. Paul had received this as his peculiar office when he was converted and called to the ministry, see Ac 9:15; 22:21; and they now perceived that he had been specially intrusted with this office, from the remarkable success which had attended his labours. It is evidently not meant here that Paul was to preach only to the Gentiles and Peter only to the Jews, for Paul often preached in the synagogues of the Jews, and Peter was the first who preached to a Gentile, Ac 10; but it is meant that it was the main business of Paul to preach to the Gentiles, or that this was especially intrusted to him.

As the gospel of the circumcision. As the office of preaching the gospel to the Jews.

Was unto Peter. Peter was to preach principally to the circumcised Jews. It is evident that until this time Peter had. been principally employed in preaching to the Jews. Paul selects Peter here particularly, doubtless because he was the oldest of the apostles, and in order to show that he was himself regarded as on a level, in regard to the apostleship, with the most aged and venerable of those who had been called to the apostolic office by the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus.

{++} "contrariwise" "On the contrary"

{&} "committed" "intrusted"

{c} "unto me, as the gospel" 1 Th 2:4; 1 Ti 2:7


Verse 8. For he that wrought effectually in Peter, etc. Or by the means or agency of Peter. The argument here is, that the same effects had been produced under the ministry of Paul among the Gentiles, which had been under the preaching of Peter among the Jews. It is inferred, therefore, that God had called both to the apostolic office. See this argument illustrated See Barnes "Ac 11:17".

The same was mighty in me, etc. In enabling me to work miracles, and in the success which attended the ministry.

{|} "effectually in Peter" "By"

{**} "mighty in me" "Wrought powerfully by me"

{++} "toward the Gentiles" "in the conversion of the Gentiles"


Verse 9. And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars. That is, pillars or supports in the church. The word rendered pillars stuloi means, properly, firm support; then persons of influence and authority, as in a church, or that support a church�"as a pillar or column does an edifice. In regard to James, See Barnes "Ga 1:19".

Comp. Ac 15:13. Cephas or Peter was the most aged of the apostles, and regarded as at the head of the apostolical college. John was the beloved disciple, and his influence in the church must of necessity have been great. Paul felt that if he had the countenance of these men, it would be an important proof to the churches of Galatia that he had a right to regard himself as an apostle. Their countenance was expressed in the most full and decisive manner.

Perceived the grace that was given unto me. That is, the favour that had been shown to me by the great Head of the church, in so abundantly blessing my lab ours among the Gentiles.

They gave unto me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship. The right hand, in token of fellowship or favour. They thus publicly acknowledged us as fellow-labourers, and expressed the utmost confidence in us. To give the right hand with us is a token of friendly salutation, and it seems that it was a mode of salutation not unknown in the times of the apostles. They were thus recognised as associated with the apostles in the great work of spreading the gospel around the world. Whether this was done in a public manner is not certainly known; but it was probably in the presence of the church, or possibly at the close of the council referred to in Ac 15.

That we should go unto the heathen. To preach the gospel, and to establish churches. In this way the whole matter was settled, and settled as Paul desired it to be. A delightful harmony was produced between Paul and the apostles at Jerusalem; and the result showed the wisdom of the course which he had adopted. There had been no harsh contention or strife. No jealousies had been suffered to arise. Paul had sought an opportunity of a full statement of his views to them in private, Ga 2:2, and they had been entirely satisfied that God had called him and Barnabas to the work of making known the gospel among the heathen. Instead of being jealous at their success, they had rejoiced in it; and instead of throwing any obstacle in their way, they cordially gave them the right hand. How easy would it be always to prevent jealousies and strifes in the same way! If there was, on the one hand, the same readiness for a full and frank explanation, and if, on the other, the same freedom from envy at remarkable success, how many strifes that have disgraced the church might have been avoided! The true way to avoid strife is just that which is here proposed. Let there be on both sides perfect frankness; let there be a willingness to explain and state things just as they are; and let there be a disposition to rejoice in the talents, and zeal, and success of others, even though it should far outstrip our own, and contention in the church would cease, and every devoted and successful minister of the gospel would receive the right hand of fellowship from all�"however venerable by age or authority�"who love the cause of true religion.

{a} "be pillars" Mt 16:18; Eph 2:20

{b} "the grace" Ro 1:5; 12:3,6


Verse 10. Only they would that we should remember the poor. That is, as I suppose, the poor Christians in Judea. It can hardly be supposed that it would be necessary to make this an express stipulation in regard to the converts from among the Gentiles, and it would not have been very pertinent to the case before them to have done so. The object was, to bind together the Christians from among the heathen, and from among the Jews, and to prevent alienation and unkind feeling. It might have been alleged that Paul was disposed to forget his own countrymen altogether; that he regarded himself as so entirely the apostle of the Gentiles that he would become wholly alienated frown those who were his "kinsmen according to the flesh," and thus it might be apprehended that unpleasant feelings would be engendered among those who had been converted from among the Jews. Now nothing could be better adapted to allay this than for him to pledge himself to feel a deep interest in the poor saints among the Jewish converts; to remember them in his prayers; and to endeavour to secure contributions for their wants. Thus he would show that he was not alienated from his countrymen; and thus the whole church would be united in the closest bonds. It is probable that the Christians in Judea were at that time suffering the ills of poverty, arising either from some public persecution, or from the fact that they were subject to the displeasure of their countrymen. All who know the peculiar feelings of the Jews at that time in regard to Christians, must see at once that many of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth would be subjected to great inconveniences on account of their attachment to him. Many a wife might be disowned by her husband; many a child disinherited by a parent; many a man might be thrown out of employment by the fact that others would not countenance him; and hence many of the Christians would be poor. It became, therefore, an object of special importance to provide for them; and hence this is so often referred to in the New Testament. In addition to this, the church in Judea was afflicted with famine. Comp. Ac 11:30; Ro 15:25-27; 1 Co 16:1,2; 2 Co 8:1-7.

The same which I also was forward to do. See the passages just referred to. Paul interested himself much in the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, and in this way he furnished the fullest evidence that he was not alienated from them, but that he felt the deepest interest in those who were his kindred. One of the proper ways of securing union in the church is to have the poor with them, and depending on them for support; and hence every church has some poor persons as one of the bonds of union. The best way to unite all Christians, and to prevent alienation, and jealousy, and strife, is to have a great common object of charity, in which all are interested, and to which all may contribute. Such a common object for all Christians is a sinful world. All who bear the Christian name may unite in promoting its salvation, and nothing would promote union in the now divided and distracted church of Christ like a deep and common interest in the salvation of all mankind.


Verse 11. But when Peter was come to Antioch. On the situation of Antioch, See Barnes "Ac 11:19".

The design for which Paul introduces this statement here is evident. It is to show that he regarded himself as on a level with the chief apostles, and that he did not acknowledge his inferiority to any of them. Peter was the eldest, and probably the most honoured of the apostles. Yet Paul says that he did not hesitate to resist him in a case where Peter was manifestly wrong, and thus showed that he was an apostle of the same standing as the others. Besides, what he said to Peter on that occasion was exactly pertinent to the strain of the argument which he was pursuing with the Galatians, and he therefore introduces it Ga 2:14-21 to show that he had held the same doctrine all along, and that he had defended it in the presence of Peter, and in a case where Peter did not reply to it. The time of this journey of Peter to Antioch cannot be ascertained; nor the occasion on which it occurred. I think it is evident that it was after this visit of Paul to Jerusalem, and the occasion may have been to inspect the state of the church at Antioch, and to compose any differences of opinion which may have existed there. But everything in regard to this is mere conjecture; and it is of little importance to know when it occurred.

I withstood him to the face. I openly opposed him, and reproved him. Paul thus showed that he was equal with Peter in his apostolical authority and dignity. The instance before us is one of faithful public reproof; and every circumstance in it is worthy of special attention, as it furnishes a most important illustration of the manner in which such reproof should be conducted. The first thing to be noted is, that it was done openly, and with candour. It was reproof addressed to the offender himself. Paul did not go to others and whisper his suspicions; he did not seek to undermine the influence and authority of another by slander; he did not calumniate him, and then justify himself on the ground that what he had said was no more than true: he went to him at once, and he frankly stated his views, and reproved him in a case where he was manifestly wrong. This too was a case so public and well known, that Paul made his remarks before the church, Ga 2:14, because the church was interested in it, and because the conduct of Peter led the church into error.

Because he was to be blamed. The word used here may either mean because he had incurred blame, or because he deserved blame. The essential idea is, that he had done wrong, and that he was by his conduct doing injury to the cause of religion.

{d} "Antioch" Ac 15:35


Verse 12. For before that certain came. Some of the Jews who had been converted to Christianity. They evidently observed in the strictest manner the rites of the Jewish religion.

From James. See Barnes "Ga 1:19".

Whether they were sent by James, or whether they came of their own accord, is unknown. It is evident only that they had been intimate with James at Jerusalem, and they doubtless pleaded his authority. James had nothing to do with the course which they pursued; but the sense of the whole passage is, that James was a leading man at Jerusalem, and that the rites of Moses were observed there. When they came down to Antioch, they of course observed those rites, and insisted that others should do it also. It is very evident that at Jerusalem the peculiar rites of the Jews were observed for a long time by those who became Christian converts. They would not at once cease to observe them, and thus needlessly shock the prejudices of their countrymen. See Barnes "Ac 21:21"

also Ac 21:22-25.

He did eat with the Gentiles. Peter had been taught that in the remarkable vision which he saw, as recorded in Ac 10. He had learned that God designed to break down the wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles, and he familiarly associated with them, and partook with them of their food. He evidently disregarded the peculiar laws of the Jews about meats and drinks, and partook of the common food which was in use among the Gentiles. Thus he showed his belief that all the race was henceforward to be regarded as on a level, and that the peculiar institutions of the Jews were not to be considered as binding, or to be imposed on others.

But when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself. He withdrew from the Gentiles, and probably from the Gentile converts to Christianity. The reason why he did this is stated. He feared those who were of the circumcision, or who had been Jews. Whether they demanded this of him; whether they encountered him in debate; or whether he silently separated himself from the Gentiles without their having said anything to him, is unknown. But he feared the effect of their opposition; he feared their reproaches; he feared the report which would be made to those at Jerusalem; and perhaps he apprehended that a tumult would be excited, and a persecution commenced at Antioch by the Jews who resided there. This is a melancholy illustration of Peter's characteristic trait of mind. We see in this act the same Peter who trembled when he began to sink in the waves; the same Peter who denied his Lord. Bold, ardent, zealous, and forward, he was at the same time timid and often irresolute; and he often had occasion for the deepest humility, and the most poignant regrets at the errors of his course. No one can read his history without loving his ardent and sincere attachment to his Master; and yet no one can read it without a tear of regret that he was left thus to do injury to his cause. No man loved the Saviour more sincerely than he did, yet his constitutional timidity and irresoluteness of character often led him to courses of life fitted deeply to wound his cause.

{a} "eat with Gentiles" Ac 11:3


Verse 13. And the other Jews. That is, those who had been converted to Christianity. It is probable that they were induced to do it by the example of Peter, as they would naturally regard him as a leader.

Dissembled likewise with him. Dissembled or concealed their true sentiments. That is, they attempted to conceal from those who had come down from James the fact, that they had been in the habit of associating with the Gentiles, and of eating with them. From this it would appear that they intended to conceal this wholly from them, and that they withdrew from the Gentiles before anything had been said to them by those who came down from James.

Insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away, etc. Concerning Barnabas, See Barnes "Ac 4:36".

Barnabas was the intimate friend of Paul. He had been associated with him in very important labours; and the fact, therefore, that the conduct of Peter was exciting so unhappy an influence as even to lead so worthy and good a man as he was into hypocrisy and error, made it the more proper that Paul should publicly notice and reprove the conduct of Peter. It could not but be a painful duty, but the welfare of the church and the cause of religion demanded it, and Paul did not shrink from what was so obvious a duty.

{*} "insomuch that" "So that"


Verse 14. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly. To walk, in the Scriptures, is usually expressive of conduct or deportment; and the idea here is, that their conduct in this case was not honest.

According to the truth of the gospel. According to the true spirit and design of the gospel. That requires perfect honesty and integrity; and as that was the rule by which Paul regulated his life, and by which he felt that all ought to regulate their conduct, he felt himself called on openly to reprove the principal person who had been in fault. The spirit of the world is crafty, cunning, and crooked. The gospel would correct all that wily policy, and would lead man in a path of entire honesty and truth.

I said unto Peter before them all. That is, probably, before all the church, or certainly before all. who had offended with him in the case. Had this been a private affair, Paul would doubtless have sought a private interview with Peter, and would have remonstrated with him in private on the subject. But it was public. It was a case where many were involved, and where the interests of the church were at stake. It was a case where it was very important to establish some fixed and just principles, and he therefore took occasion to remonstrate with him in public on the subject. This might have been at the close of public worship; or it may have been that the subject came up for debate in some of their public meetings, whether the rites of the Jews were to be imposed on the Gentile converts. This was a question which agitated all the churches where the Jewish and Gentile converts were intermingled; and it would not be strange that it should be the subject of public debate at Antioch. The fact that Paul reproved Peter before "them all," proves,

(1.) that he regarded himself, and was so regarded by the church, as on an equality with Peter, and as having equal authority with him.

(2.) That public reproof is right when an offence has been public, and when the church at large is interested, or is in danger of being led into error. Comp. 1 Ti 5:20, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."

(3.) That it is a duty to reprove those who err. It is a painful duty, and one much neglected; still it is a duty often enjoined in the Scriptures, and one that is of the deepest importance to the church. He does a favour to another man who, in a kind spirit, admonishes him of his error, and reclaims him from a course of sin. He does another the deepest injury, who suffers sin unrebuked to lie upon him, and who sees him injuring himself and others, and who is at no pains to admonish him for his faults.

(4.) If it is the duty of one Christian to admonish another who is an offender, and to do it in a kind spirit, it is the duty of him who has offended to receive the admonition in a kind spirit and with thankfulness. Excitable as Peter was by. nature, yet there is no evidence that he became angry here, or that he did not receive the admonition of his brother Paul with perfect good temper, and with an acknowledgment that Paul was right and that he was wrong. Indeed, the case was so plain�"as it usually is, if men would be honest�"that he seems to have felt that it was right, and to have received the rebuke as became a Christian. Peter, unhappily, was accustomed to rebukes; and he was at heart too good a man to be offended when he was admonished that he had done wrong. A good man is willing to be reproved when he has erred, and it is usually proof that there is much that is wrong when we become excited and irritable if another admonishes us of our faults. It may be added here, that nothing should be inferred from this in regard to the inspiration or apostolic authority of Peter. The fault was not that he taught error of doctrine, but that he sinned in conduct. Inspiration, though it kept the apostles from teaching error, did not keep them necessarily from sin. A man may always teach the truth, and yet be far from perfection in practice. The case here proves that Peter was not perfect, a fact proved by his whole life; it proves that he was sometimes timid, and even, for a period, time-serving; but it does not prove that what he wrote for our guidance was false and erroneous.

If thou, being a Jew. A Jew by birth.

Livest after the manner of the Gentiles. In eating, etc., as he had done before Judaizing teachers came from Jerusalem, Ga 2:12.

And not as do the Jews. Observing their peculiar customs, and their distinctions of meats and drinks.

Why compellest thou the Gentiles, etc. As he would do, if he insisted that they should be circumcised, and observe the peculiar Jewish rites. The charge against him was gross inconsistency in doing this. "Is it not at least as lawful for them to neglect the Jewish observances, as it was for thee to do it but a few days ago?"�"Doddridge. The word here rendered "compellest," means here moral compulsion or persuasion. The idea is, that the conduct of Peter was such as to lead the Gentiles to the belief that it was necessary for them to be circumcised in order to be saved. For a similar use of the word, see Mt 14:22; Lu 14:23; Ac 28:19.

{b} "truth of gospel" Ga 2:5

{c} "Peter before them" 1 Ti 5:20

{+} "compellest" "urgest"


Verse 15. We who are Jews by nature. It has long been a question whether this and the following verses are to be regarded as a part of the address of Paul to Peter, or the words of Paul as a part of the epistle to the Galatians. A great variety of opinion has prevailed in regard to this. Grotius says, "Here the narrative of Paul being closed, he pursues his argument to the Galatians." In this opinion Bloomfield and many others concur. Rosenmuller, and many others, suppose that the address to Peter is continued to Ga 2:21. Such seems to be the most obvious interpretation, as there is no break or change in the style, nor any vestige of a transfer of the argument to the Galatians. But on the other hand it may be urged,

(1.) that Paul in his writings often changes his mode of address without indicating it.�"Bloomfield.

(2.) That it is rather improbable that he should have gone into so long a discourse with Peter on the subject of justification; His purpose was answered by the reproof of Peter for his dissimulation; and there is something incongruous, it is said, in his instructing Peter at such length, on the subject of man's justification. Still it appears to me probable that this is to be regarded as a part of the discourse of Paul to Peter, to the close of Ga 2:21. The following reasons seem to me to require this interpretation:

(1.) It is the most natural and obvious�"usually a safe rule of interpretation. The discourse proceeds as if it were an address to Peter.

(2.) There is a change at the beginning of the next chapter where Paul expressly addresses himself to the Galatians.

(3.) As to the impropriety of Paul's addressing Peter at length on the subject of justification, we are to bear in mind that he did not address him alone. The reproof was addressed to Peter particularly, but it was "before them all," Ga 2:14; that is, before the assembled church, or before the persons who had been led astray by the conduct of Peter, and who were in danger of error on the subject of justification. Nothing, therefore, was more proper than for Paul to continue his discourse for their benefit, and to state to them fully the doctrine of justification. And nothing was more pertinent or proper for him now than to report this to the Galatians as a part of his argument to them, showing that he had always, since his conversion, held and defended the same doctrine on the subject of the way in which men are to be justified in the sight of God. It is therefore, I apprehend, to be regarded as an address to Peter and the other Jews who were present. "We who were born Jews."

By nature. By birth; or, we were born Jews. We were not born in the condition of the Gentiles.

And not sinners of the Gentiles. This cannot mean that Paul did not regard the Jews as sinners, for his views on that subject he has fully expressed in Ro 2, Ro 3. But it must mean that the Jews were not born under the disadvantages of the Gentiles in regard to the true knowledge of the way of salvation, They were not left wholly in ignorance about the way of justification, as the Gentiles were. They knew, or they might know, that men could not be saved by their own works. It was also true that they were under more restraint than the Gentiles were; and though they were sinners, yet they were not abandoned to so gross and open sensuality as was the heathen world. They were not idolaters, and wholly ignorant of the law of God.

{d} "sinners" Eph 2:3,12


Verse 16. Knowing. We who are Jews by nature, or by birth. This cannot mean that all the Jews knew this, or that he who was a Jew knew it as a matter of course, for many Jews were ignorant of it, and many opposed it. But it means that the persons here referred to, those who had been born Jews, and who had been converted to Christianity, had had an opportunity to learn and understand this, which the Gentiles had not. This gospel had been preached to them, and they had professedly embraced it. They were not left to the gross darkness and ignorance on this subject which pervaded the heathen world, and they had had a better opportunity to learn it than the converts from the Gentiles. They ought, therefore, to act in a manner becoming their superior light, and to show in all their conduct that they fully believed that a man could not be justified by obedience to the law of Moses. This rendered the conduct of Peter, and the other Jews who "dissembled" with him, so entirely inexcusable. They could not plead ignorance on this vital subject, and yet they were pursuing a course the tendency of which was to lead the Gentile converts to believe that it was indispensable to observe the laws of Moses, in order to be justified and saved.

That a man is not justified by the works of the law. See Barnes "Ro 1:17; 3:20,26; 4:5".

But by the faith of Jesus Christ. By believing on Jesus Christ. See Barnes "Mr 16:16; Ro 3:22".

Even we have believed in Jesus Christ. We are therefore justified. The object of Paul here seems to be to show, that as they had believed in the Lord Jesus, and thus had been justified, there was no necessity of obeying the law of Moses with any view to justification. The thing had been fully done without the deeds of the law, and it was now unreasonable and unnecessary to insist on the observance of the Mosaic rites.

For by the works of the law, etc. See Barnes "Ro 3:20, See Barnes "Ro 3:27".

In this verse, the apostle has stated in few words the important doctrine of justification by faith�"the doctrine which Luther so justly called, Articulus stantis, vel cadentis ecclesia. In the notes referred to above, particularly in the notes on the epistle to the Romans, I have stated in various places what I conceive to be the true doctrine on this important subject. It may be useful, however, to throw together in one connected view, as briefly as possible, the leading ideas on the subject of justification, as it is revealed in the gospel.

I. Justification is properly a word applicable to courts of justice, but is used in a similar sense in common conversation among men. An illustration will show its nature. A man is charged, e.g., with an act of trespass on his neighbour's property. Now there are two ways which he may take to justify himself, or to meet the charge, so as to be regarded and treated as innocent. He may

(a) either deny that he performed the act charged on him, or he may

(b) admit that the deed was done, and set up as a defence that he had a right to do it. In either case, if the point be made out, he will be just or innocent in the sight of the law. The law will have nothing against him, and he will be regarded and treated in the premises as an innocent man; or he has justified himself in regard to the charge brought against him.

II. Charges of a very serious nature are brought against man by his Maker. He is charged with violating the law of God; with a want of love to his Maker; with a corrupt, proud, sensual heart; with being entirely alienated from God by wicked works; in one word, with being entirely depraved. This charge extends to all men; and to the entire life of every unrenewed man. It is not a charge merely affecting the external conduct, not merely affecting the heart; it is a charge of entire alienation from God�"a charge, in short, of total depravity. See, especially, Rom 1, 2, 3. That this charge is a very serious one, no one can doubt. That it deeply affects the human character and standing, is as clear. It is a charge brought in the Bible; and God appeals in proof of it to the history of the world, to every man's conscience, and to the life of every one who has lived; and on these facts, and on his own power in searching the hearts, and in knowing what is in man, he rests the proofs of the charge.

III. It is impossible for man to vindicate himself from this charge. He can neither show that the things charged have not been committed, nor that, having been committed, he had a right to do them. He cannot prove that God is not right in all the charges which he has made against him in his word; and he cannot prove that it was right for him to do as he has done. The charges against him are facts which are undeniable, and the facts are such as cannot be vindicated. But if he can do neither of these things, then he cannot be justified by the law. The law will not acquit him. It holds him guilty. It condemns him. No argument which he can use will show that he is right, and that God is wrong. No works that he can perform will be any compensation for what he has already done. No denial of the existence of the facts charged will alter the case; and he must stand condemned by the law of God. In the legal sense he cannot be justified; and justification, if it ever exist at all, must be in a mode that is a departure from the regular operation of law, and in a mode which the law did not contemplate, for no law makes any provision for the pardon of those who violate it. It must be by some system which is distinct from the law, and in which man may be justified on different principles than those which the law contemplates.

IV. This other system of justification is that which is revealed in the gospel by the faith of the Lord Jesus. It does NOT consist in either of the following things:

(1.) It is not a system or plan where the Lord Jesus takes the part of the sinner against the law or against God. He did not come to show that the sinner was right, and that God was wrong. He admitted most fully, and endeavoured constantly to show, that God was right, and that the sinner was wrong; nor can an instance be referred to where the Saviour took the part of the sinner against God, in any such sense that he endeavoured to show that the sinner had not done the things charged on him, or that he had a right to do them.

(2.) It is not that we are either innocent, or are declared to be innocent. God justifies the "ungodly," Ro 4:5. We are not innocent; we never have been; we never shall be; and it is not the design of the scheme to declare any such untruth as that we are not personally undeserving. It will be always true that the justified sinner has no claims to the mercy and favour of God.

(3.) It is not that we cease to be undeserving personally. He that is justified by faith, and that goes to heaven, will go there admitting that he deserves eternal death, and that he is saved wholly by favour and not by desert.

(4.) It is not a declaration on the part of God that we have wrought out salvation, or that we have any claim for what the Lord Jesus has done. Such a declaration would not be true, and would not be made.

(5.) It is not that the righteousness of the Lord Jesus is transferred to his people. Moral character cannot be transferred. It adheres to the moral agent as much as colour does to the rays of light which cause it. It is not true that we died for sin, and it cannot be so reckoned or imputed. It is not true that we have any merit, or any claim, and it cannot be so reckoned or imputed. All the imputations of God are according to truth; and he will always reckon us to be personally undeserving and sinful. But if justification be none of these things, it may be asked, what is it? I answer, It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Saviour. It is not mere pardon. The main difference between pardon and justification respects the sinner contemplated in regard to his past conduct, and to God's future dealings with him. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offences. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. It is an act of remission on the part of God. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as a righteous man, or as if he had not sinned. The ground or reason of this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ; merit such that we can plead it as if it were our own. The rationale of it is, that the Lord Jesus has accomplished by his death the same happy effects in regard to the law and the government of God, which would be accomplished by the death of the sinner himself. In other words, nothing would be gained to the universe by the everlasting punishment of the offender himself, which will not be secured by his salvation on the ground of the death of the Lord Jesus. He has taken our place, and died in our stead; and he has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own head if he had not interposed, See Barnes "Isa 53:1" and following, and now the great interests of justice will be as firmly secured if we are saved, as they would be if we were lost. The law has been fully obeyed by one who came to save us, and as much honour has been done to it by his obedience as could have been by our own; that is, it as much shows that the law is worthy of obedience, to have it perfectly obeyed by the Lord Jesus, as it would if it were obeyed by us. It as much shows that the law of a sovereign is worthy of obedience, to have it obeyed by an only son, and an heir to the crown, as it does to have it obeyed by his subjects. And it has as much shown the evil of the violation of the law to have the Lord Jesus suffer death on the cross, as it would if the guilty had died themselves. If transgression whelm the innocent in calamity; if it extends to those who are perfectly guiltless, and inflicts pain and woe on them, it is as certainly an expression of the evil of transgression as if the guilty themselves suffer. And an impression as deep has been made of the evil of sin by the sufferings of the Lord Jesus in our stead, as if we had suffered ourselves. He endured on the cross as intense agony as we can conceive it possible for a sinner ever to endure; and the dignity of the Person who suffered�"THE INCARNATE GOD�"is more than an equivalent for the more lengthened sorrows which the penalty of the law exacts in hell. Besides, from the very dignity of the Sufferer in our place, an impression has gone abroad on the universe more deep and important than would have been by the sufferings of the individual himself in the world of woe. The sinner who is lost will be unknown to other worlds. His name may be unheard beyond the gates of the prison of despair. The impression which will be made on distant worlds by his individual sufferings will be as a part of the aggregate of woe, and his individual sorrows may make no impression on distant worlds. But not so with Him who took our place, He stood in the centre of the universe. The sun grew dark, and the dead arose, and angels gazed upon the scene; and from his cross an impression went abroad to the farthest part of the universe, showing the tremendous effects of the violation of law, when not one soul could be saved from its penalty without such sorrows of the Son of God. In virtue of all this, the offender, by believing on him, may be treated as if he had not sinned; and this constitutes justification. God admits him to favour as if he had himself obeyed the law, or borne its penalty, since as many good results will now follow from his salvation as could be derived from his punishment; and since all the additional happy results will follow which can be derived from the exercise of pardoning mercy. The character of God is thus revealed. His mercy is shown. His determination to maintain his law is evinced. The truth is maintained; and yet he shows the fulness of his mercy, and the richness of his benevolence.

{a} "a man" Ac 13:38,39; Ro 3:20

{b} "faith" Ro 5:1; Ga 3:11,24

{c} "for by works of the law" Ps 143:2; Heb 7:18,19


Verse 17. But if, while, we seek to be justified by Christ. The connexion here is not very clear, and the sense of the verse is somewhat obscure. Rosenmuller supposes that this is an objection of a Jew, supposing that where the law of Moses is not observed there is no rule of life, and that therefore there must be sin; and that since the doctrine of justification by faith taught that there was no necessity of obeying the ceremonial law of Moses, therefore Christ, who had introduced that system, must be regarded as the author and encourager of sin. To me it seems probable that Paul here has reference to an objection which has in all ages been brought against the doctrine of justification by faith, and which seems to have existed in his time, that the doctrine leads to licentiousness. The objections are, that it does not teach the necessity of the observance of the law in order to acceptance with God; that it pronounces a man justified and accepted who is a violator of the law; that his acceptance does not depend on moral character; that it releases him from the obligation of law; and that it teaches that a man may be saved though he does not conform to law. These objections existed early, and have been found everywhere where the doctrine of justification by faith has been preached. I regard this verse, therefore, as referring to these objections, and not as being peculiarly the objection of a Jew. The idea is, "You seek to be justified by faith without obeying the law, You professedly reject that, and do not hold that it is necessary to yield obedience to it. If now it shall turn out that you are sinners; that your lives are not holy; that you are free from the wholesome restraint of the law, and are given up to lives of sin, will it not follow that Christ is the cause of it, that he taught it, and that the system which he introduced is responsible for it? And is not the gospel therefore responsible for introducing a system that frees from the restraint of the law, and introduces universal licentiousness?" To this Paul replies by stating distinctly that the gospel has no such tendency, and particularly by referring in the following verses to his own case, and to the effect of the doctrine of justification on his own heart and life.

We ourselves also are found sinners. If it turns out that we are sinners, or if others discover by undoubted demonstration that we lead lives of sin; if they see us given up to a lawless life, and find us practicing all kinds of evil; if it shall be seen not only that we are not pardoned and made better by the gospel, but are actually made worse, and are freed from all moral restraint.

Is therefore Christ the minister of sin? Is it to be traced to him? Is it a fair and legitimate conclusion that this is the tendency of the gospel? Is it to be charged on him, and on the plan of justification through him, that a lax morality prevails, and that men are freed from the wholesome restraints of law?

God forbid. It is not so. This is not the proper effect of the gospel of Christ, and of the doctrine of justification by faith. The system is not fitted to produce such a freedom from restraint; and if such a freedom exists, it is to be traced to something else than the gospel.

{a} "ourselves also" 1 Jo 3:9,10


Verse 18. For if I build again the things which I destroyed. Paul here uses the first person; but he evidently intends it as a general proposition, and means that if any one does it he becomes a transgressor. The sense is, that if a man, having removed or destroyed that which was evil, again introduces it or establishes it, he does wrong, and is a transgressor of the law of God. The particular application here, as it seems to me, is to the subject of circumcision, and the other rites of the Mosaic law. They had been virtually abolished by the coming of the Redeemer, and by the doctrine of justification by faith. It had been seen that there was no necessity for their observance, and of that Peter and the others had been fully aware. Yet they were lending their influence again to establish them, or to "build" them up again. They complied with them, and they insisted on the necessity of their observance. Their conduct, therefore, was that of building up again that which had once been destroyed�"destroyed by the ministry, and toils, and death of the Lord Jesus, and by the fair influence of his gospel. To rebuild that again, to re-establish those customs, was wrong, and now involved the guilt of a transgression of the law of God. Doddridge supposes that this is an address to the Galatians, and that the address to Peter closed at the previous verse. But it is impossible to determine this; and it seems to me more probable that this is all a part of the address to Peter, or rather, perhaps, to the assembly when Peter was present.

See Barnes "Ga 2:15".


Verse 19. For I through the law. On this passage the commentators are by no means agreed. It is agreed that in the phrase "am dead to the law," the law of Moses is referred to, and that the meaning is, that Paul had become dead to that as a ground or means of justification, lie acted as though it were not; or it ceased to have influence over him. A dead man is insensible to all around him. He hears nothing; sees nothing; and nothing affects him. So when we are said to be dead to anything, the meaning is, that it does not have an influence over us. In this sense Paul was dead to the law of Moses. He ceased to observe it as a ground of justification. It ceased, to be the grand aim and purpose of his life, as it had been formerly, to obey it. He had higher purposes than that, and truly lived to God. See Barnes "Ro 6:2".

But on the meaning of the phrase "through the law," dia nomou there has been a great variety of opinion. Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, and some others, suppose that he means the Christian religion; and that the meaning is, "By one law, or doctrine, I am dead to another;" that is, the Christian doctrine has caused me to cast aside the Mosaic religion. Doddridge, Clarke, Chandler, and most others, however, suppose that he here refers to the law of Moses, and that the meaning is, that by contemplating the true character of the law of Moses itself; by considering its nature and design; by understanding the extent of its requisitions, he had become dead to it; that is, he had laid aside all expectations of being justified by it. This seems to me to be the correct interpretation. Paul had formerly expected to be justified by the law. He had endeavoured to obey it. It had been the object of his life to comply with all its requisitions, in order to be saved by it, Php 3:4-6. But all this while he had not fully understood its nature; and when he was made fully to feel and comprehend its spiritual requirements, then all his hopes of justification by it died, and he became dead to it. See this sentiment more fully explained See Barnes "Ro 7:9".

That I might live unto God. That I might be truly alive, and might be found engaged in his service. He was dead to the law, but not to everything. He had not become literally inactive and insensible to all things, like a dead man, but he had become truly sensible to the commands and appeals of God, and had consecrated himself to his service. See Barnes "Ro 6:11".

{b} "For I through" Ro 7:4,10; 8:2

{c} "live unto God" Ro 6:11,14; 2 Co 5:15


Verse 20. I am crucified with Christ. In the previous verse, Paul had said that he was dead. In this verse he states what he meant by it, and shows that he did not wish to be understood as saying that he was inactive, or that he was literally insensible to the appeals made to him by other beings and objects. In respect to one thing he was dead; to all that was truly great and noble he was alive. To understand the remarkable phrase, "I am crucified with Christ," we may remark,

(1.) that this was the way in which Christ was put to death. He suffered on a cross, and thus became literally dead.

(2.) In a sense similar to this, Paul became dead to the law, to the world, and to sin. The Redeemer, by the death of the cross, became insensible to all surrounding objects, as the dead always are. He ceased to see and hear, and was as though they were not. Hie was laid in the cold grave, and they did not affect or influence him. So Paul says that he became insensible to the law as a means of justification; to the world; to ambition and the love of money; to the pride and pomp of life; and to the dominion of evil and hateful passions. They lost their power over him; they ceased to influence him.

(3.) This was with Christ, or by Christ. It cannot mean literally that he was put to death with him, for that is not true; but it means that the effect of the death of Christ on the cross was to make him dead to these things, in like manner as he, when he died, became insensible to the things of this busy world. This may include the following things:

(a) There was an intimate union between Christ and his people; so that what affected him, affected them. See Joh 15:5,6.

(b) The death of the Redeemer on the cross involved as a consequence the death of his people to the world and to sin. See Ga 5:24; 6:14. It was like a blow at the root of a vine or a tree, which would affect every branch and tendril; or like a blow at the head, which affects every member of the body.

(c) Paul felt identified with the Lord Jesus; and he was willing to share in all the ignominy and contempt which was connected with the idea of the crucifixion. He was willing to regard himself as one with the Redeemer. If there was disgrace attached to the manner in which he died, he was willing to share it with him. He regarded it as a matter to be greatly desired to be made just like Christ in all things, and even in the manner of his death. This idea he has more fully expressed in Php 3:10, "That I may know him, [that is, I desire earnestly to know him,] and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." See also Col 1:24; 1 Pe 4:13.

Nevertheless I live. This expression is added, as in Ga 2:19, to prevent the possibility of mistake. Paul, though he was crucified with Christ, did not wish to be understood that he felt himself to be dead. He was not inactive; not insensible, as the dead are, to the appeals which are made from God, or to the great objects which ought to interest an immortal mind. He was still actively employed, and the more so from the fact that he was crucified with Christ. The object of all such expressions as this is to show that it was no design of the gospel to make men inactive, or to annihilate their energies. It was not to cause men to do nothing. It was not to paralyze their powers, or stifle their own efforts. Paul therefore says, "I am not dead. I am truly alive; and I live a better life than I did before." Paul was as active after conversion as he was before. Before, he was engaged in persecution; now, he devoted his great talents with as much energy, and with as untiring zeal, to the cause of the great Redeemer. Indeed, the whole narrative would lead us to suppose that he was more active and zealous after his conversion than he was before. The effect of religion is not to make one dead in regard to the putting forth of the energies of the soul. True religion never made one lazy man; it has converted many a man of indolence, and effeminacy, and self-indulgence, to a man actively engaged in doing good. If a professor of religion is less active in the service of God than he was in the service of the world�"less laborious, and zealous, and ardent than he was before his supposed conversion�"he ought to set it down as full proof that he is an utter stranger to true religion.

Yet not I. This also is designed to prevent misapprehension. In the previous clause he had said that he lived, or was actively engaged. But lest this should be misunderstood, and it should be inferred that he meant to say it was by his own energy or powers, he guards it, and says it was not at all from himself. It was by no native tendency; no power of his own; nothing that could be traced to himself, he assumed no credit for any zeal which he had shown in the true life. He was disposed to trace it all to another. He had ample proof in his past experience that there was no tendency in himself to a life of true religion, and he therefore traced it all to another.

Christ liveth in me. Christ was the source of all the life that he had. Of course this cannot be taken literally that Christ had a residence in the apostle; but it must mean that his grace resided in him; that his principles actuated him; and that he derived all his energy, and zeal, and life from his grace. The union between the Lord Jesus and the disciple was so close that it might be said the one lived in the other. So the juices of the vine are in each branch, and leaf, and tendril, and live in them and animate them; the vital energy of the brain is in each delicate nerve�"no matter how small�"that is found in any part of the human frame. Christ was in him, as it were, the vital principle. All his life and energy were derived from him.

And the life which I now live in the flesh. As I now live on the earth, surrounded by the cares and anxieties of this life. I carry the life-giving principles of my religion to all my duties and all my trials.

I live by the faith of the Son of God. By confidence in the Son of God, looking to him for strength, and trusting in his promises and in his grace.

Who loved me, etc. He felt under the highest obligation to him, from the fact that he had loved him, and given himself to the death of the cross in his behalf. The conviction of obligation on this account Paul often expresses. \\See Barnes "Ro 6:8"\, and \\Ro 6:9-11\; See Barnes "Ro 8:35, and Ro 8:36-39; See Barnes "2 Co 5:15".

There is no higher sense of obligation than that which is felt towards the Saviour; and Paul felt himself bound, as we should, to live entirely to him who had redeemed him by his blood.

{a} "crucified with Christ" Ga 5:24; 6:14

{b} "liveth in me" 1 Th 5:10; 1 Pe 4:2

{c} "gave himself" Joh 10:11; Eph 5:2


Verse 21. I do not frustrate the grace of God. The word rendered "frustrate" ayetw means, properly, to displace, abrogate, abolish; then to make void, to render null, Mr 7:9; Lu 7:30; 1 Co 1:19.

The phrase, "the grace of God," here refers to the favour of God manifested in the plan of salvation by the gospel, and is another name for the gospel. The sense is, that Paul would not take any measures, or pursue any course, that would render that vain or inefficacious. Neither by his own life, by a course of conduct which would show that it had no influence over the heart and conduct, nor by the observance of Jewish rites and customs, would he do anything to render that inefficacious. The design is to show that he regarded it as a great principle, that the gospel was efficacious in renewing and saving man, and he would do nothing that would tend to pre, vent that impression on mankind. A life of sin, of open depravity and licentiousness, would do that. And, in like manner, a conformity to the rites of Moses, as a ground of justification, would tend to frustrate the grace of God, or to render the method of salvation solely by the Redeemer nugatory. This is to be regarded, therefore, as at the same time a reproof of Peter for complying with customs which tended to frustrate the plan of the gospel, and a declaration that he intended that his own course of life should be such as to confirm the plan, and show its efficacy in pardoning the sinner, and rendering him alive in the service of God.

For if righteousness come by the law. If justification can be secured by the observance of any law�"ceremonial or moral�"then there was no need of the death of Christ as an atonement. This is plain. If man by conformity to any law could be justified before God, what need was there of an atonement? The work would then have been wholly in his own power, and the merit would have been his. It follows from this, that man cannot be justified by his own morality, or his almsdeeds, or his forms of religion, or his honesty and integrity. If he can, he needs no Saviour�"he can save himself. It follows, also, that when men depend on their own amiableness, and morality, and good works, they would feel no need of a Saviour; and this is the true reason why the mass of men reject the Lord Jesus. They suppose they do not deserve to be sent to hell. They have no deep sense of guilt. They confide in their own integrity, and feel that God ought to save them. Hence they feel no need of a Saviour; for why should a man in health employ a physician? And confiding in their own righteousness, they reject the grace of God, and despise the plan of justification through the Redeemer. To feel the need of a Saviour, it is necessary to feel that we are lost and ruined sinners; that we have no merit on which we can rely; and that we are entirely dependent on the mercy of God for salvation. Thus feeling, we shall receive the salvation of the gospel with thankfulness and joy, and show that in regard to us Christ is not "dead in vain."

{*} "frustrate" "make void"

{d} "if righteousness" Heb 7:11

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