Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI

This epistle is not written, as most of St. Paul's are, to the Christians of a particular city, but to those of a whole country in Asia Minor, the metropolis of which was Ancyra. These readily embraced the gospel; but, after St. Paul had left them, certain men came among them, who (like those mentioned, Acts 15:1.) taught that it was necessary to be circumcised, and to keep the Mosaic law. They affirmed, that all the other apostles taught thus; that St. Paul was inferior to them; and that even he sometimes practised and recommended the law, though at other times he opposed it.

The first part, therefore, of this epistle is spent in vindicating himself and his doctrine; proving,

  1. That he had it immediately from Christ himself; and that he was not inferior to the other apostles.
  2. That it was the very same which the other apostles preached. And,
  3. That his practice was consistent with his doctrine.

The second contains proofs, drawn from the Old Testament, that the law and all its ceremonies were abolished by Christ.

The third contains practical inferences, closed with his usual benediction.

To be a little more distinct -

This epistle contains,

  I. The inscription,................................. C.i.    1-5
 II. The calling the Galatians back to the true gospel;
     wherein he,
 1. Reproves them for leaving it,............................. 6-10
 2. Asserts the authority of the gospel he had preached,
 1. Of a persecutor was made an apostle, by an
     immediate call from heaven,............................. 11-17
 2. Was no way inferior to Peter himself,.................... 18-
                                                       C.ii.  21
 3. Defends justification by faith, and again reproves the
     Galatians,....................................... C.iii.  1-
                                                         iv.  11
 4. Explains the same thing by an allegory taken out of
     the law itself,......................................... 12-31
 5. Exhorts them to maintain their liberty,........... C.v.    1-12
     warns them not to abuse it, and admonishes them
     to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,...... 13-
  III The conclusion,......................................... 11-18

Chapter I

1 Paul, an apostle - Here it was necessary for St. Paul to assert his authority; otherwise he is very modest in the use of this title. He seldom mentions it when he mentions others in the salutations with himself, as in the Epistles to the Philippians and Thessalonians; or when he writes about secular affairs, as in that to Philemon; nor yet in writing to the Hebrews because he was not properly their apostle. Not of men - Not commissioned from them, but from God the Father. Neither by man - Neither by any man as an instrument, but by Jesus Christ. Who raised him from the dead - Of which it was the peculiar business of an apostle to bear witness.
2 And all the brethren - Who agree with me in what I now write.
4 That he might deliver us from the present evil world - From the guilt, wickedness, and misery wherein it is involved, and from its vain and foolish customs and pleasures. According to the will of God - Without any merit of ours. St. Paul begins most of his epistles with thanksgiving; but, writing to the Galatians, he alters his style, and first sets down his main proposition, That by the merits of Christ alone, giving himself for our sins, we are justified: neither does he term them, as he does others, either saints," elect," or churches of God."
5 To whom be glory - For this his gracious will.
6 I marvel that ye are removed so soon - After my leaving you. From him who called you by the grace of Christ - His gracious gospel, and his gracious power.
7 Which, indeed, is not properly another gospel. For what ye have now received is no gospel at all; it is not glad, but heavy, tidings, as setting your acceptance with God upon terms impossible to be performed. But there are some that trouble you - The same word occurs, Acts 15:24. And would - If they were able. Subvert or overthrow the gospel of Christ - The better to effect which, they suggest, that the other apostles, yea, and I myself, insist upon the observance of the law.
8 But if we - I and all the apostles. Or an angel from heaven - If it were possible. Preach another gospel, let him be accursed - Cut off from Christ and God.
9 As - He speaks upon mature deliberation; after pausing, it seems, between the two verses. We - I and the brethren who are with me. Have said before - Many times, in effect, if not in terms. So I say - All those brethren knew the truth of the gospel. St. Paul knew the Galatians had received the true gospel.
10 For - He adds the reason why he speaks so confidently. Do I now satisfy men - Is this what I aim at in preaching or writing? If I still - Since I was an apostle. Pleased men - Studied to please them; if this were my motive of action; nay, if I did in fact please the men who know not God. I should not be the servant of Christ - Hear this, all ye who vainly hope to keep in favour both with God and with the world!
11 But I certify you, brethren - He does not till now give them even this appellation. That the gospel which was preached by me among you is not according to man - Not from man, not by man, not suited to the taste of man.
12 For neither did I receive it - At once. Nor was I taught it - Slowly and gradually, by any man. But by the revelation of Jesus Christ - Our Lord revealed to him at first, his resurrection, ascension, and the calling of the gentiles, and his own apostleship; and told him then, there were other things for which he would appear to him.
13 I Persecuted the church of God - That is, the believers in Christ.
14 Being zealous of the unwritten traditions - Over and above those written in the law.
15 But when it pleased God - He ascribes nothing to his own merits, endeavours, or sincerity. Who separated me from my mother's womb - Set me apart for an apostle, as he did Jeremiah for a prophet. Jer 1:5. Such an unconditional predestination as this may consist, both with God's justice and mercy. And called me by his grace - By his free and almighty love, to be both a Christian and an apostle.
16 To reveal his Son in me - By the powerful operation of his Spirit, 2Cor 4:6; as well as to me, by the heavenly vision. That I might preach him to others - Which I should have been ill qualified to do, had I not first known him myself. I did not confer with flesh and blood - Being fully satisfied of the divine will, and determined to obey, I took no counsel with any man, neither with my own reason or inclinations, which might have raised numberless objections.
17 Neither did I go up to Jerusalem - The residence of the apostles. But I immediately went again into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus - He presupposes the journey to Damascus, in which he was converted, as being known to them all.
18 Then after three years - Wherein I had given full proof of my apostleship. I went to visit Peter - To converse with him.
19 But other of the apostles I saw none, save James the brother (that is, the kinsman) of the Lord - Therefore when Barnabas is said to have "brought him into the apostles," Acts 9:27, only St. Peter and St James are meant.
24 In me - That is, on my account.

Chapter II

1 Then fourteen years after - My first journey thither. I went up again to Jerusalem - This seems to be the journey mentioned Acts 15:2; several passages here referring to that great council, wherein all the apostles showed that they were of the same judgment with him.
2 I went up - Not by any command from them, but by an express revelation from God. And laid before them - The chief of the church in Jerusalem. The gospel which I preach among the gentiles - Acts 15:4, touching justification by faith alone; not that they might confirm me therein, but that I might remove prejudice from them. Yet not publicly at first, but severally to those of eminence - Speaking to them one by one. Lest I should run, or should have run, in vain - Lest I should lose the fruit either of my present or past labours. For they might have greatly hindered this, had they not been fully satisfied both of his mission and doctrine. The word run beautifully expresses the swift progress of the gospel.
3 But neither was Titus who was with me - When I conversed with them. Compelled to be circumcised - A clear proof that none of the apostles insisted on the circumcising gentile believers. The sense is, And it is true, some of those false brethren would fain have compelled Titus to be circumcised; but I utterly refused it.
4 Because of false brethren - Who seem to have urged it. Introduced unawares - Into some of those private conferences at Jerusalem. Who had slipped in to spy out our liberty - From the ceremonial law. That they might, if possible, bring us into that bondage again.
5 To whom we did not yield by submission - Although in love he would have yielded to any. With such wonderful prudence did the apostle use his Christian liberty ! circumcising Timothy, Acts 16:3, because of weak brethren, but not Titus, because of false brethren. That the truth of the gospel - That is, the true genuine gospel. Might continue with you - With you gentiles. So we defend, for your sakes, the privilege which you would give up.
6 And they who undoubtedly were something - Above all others. What they were - How eminent soever. It is no difference to me - So that I should alter either my doctrine or my practice. God accepteth no man's person - For any eminence in gifts or outward prerogatives. In that conference added nothing to me - Neither as to doctrine nor mission.
7 But when they saw - By the effects which I laid before them, Gal 2:8; Acts 15:12. That I was intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision - That is, with the charge of preaching it to the uncircumcised heathens.
8 For he that wrought effectually in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision - To qualify him for, and support him in, the discharge of that office to the Jews. Wrought likewise effectually in and by me - For and in the discharge of my office toward the gentiles.
9 And when James - Probably named first because he was bishop of the church in Jerusalem. And Cephas - Speaking of him at Jerusalem he calls him by his Hebrew name. And John - Hence it appears that he also was at the council, though he is not particularly named in the Acts. Who undoubtedly were pillars - The principal supporters and defenders of the gospel. Knew - After they had heard the account I gave them. The grace - Of apostleship. Which was given me, they - In the name of all. Gave to me and Barnabas - My fellow - labourer. The right hands of fellowship - They gave us their hands in token of receiving us as their fellow - labourers, mutually agreeing that we - I and those in union with me. Should go to the gentiles - Chiefly. And they - With those that were in union with them, chiefly to the circumcision - The Jews.
10 Of the poor - The poor Christians in Judea, who had lost all they had for Christ's sake.
11 But - The argument here comes to the height. Paul reproves Peter himself. So far was he from receiving his doctrine from man, or from being inferior to the chief of the apostles. When Peter - Afterwards, Came to Antioch - Then the chief of all the Gentile churches. I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed - For fear of man, Gal 2:12; for dissimulation, Gal 2:13; and for not walking uprightly. Gal 2:14.
13 And the other believing Jews - Who were at Antioch. Dissembled with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation - Was borne away, as with a torrent, into the same ill practice.
14 I said to Cephas before them all - See Paul single against Peter and all the Jews! If thou being a Jew, yet livest, in thy ordinary conversation, after the manner of the gentiles - Not observing the ceremonial law, which thou knowest to be now abolished. Why compellest thou the gentiles - By withdrawing thyself and all the ministers from them; either to judaize, to keep the ceremonial law, or to be excluded from church communion ?
15 We - St. Paul, to spare St. Peter, drops the first person singular, and speaks in the plural number. Gal 2:18, he speaks in the first person singular again by a figure; and without a figure, Gal 2:19, &c. Who are Jews by nature - By birth, not proselytes only. And not sinners of the gentiles - That is, not sinful Gentiles; not such gross, enormous, abandoned sinners, as the heathens generally were.
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law - Not even of the moral, much less the ceremonial, law. But by the faith of Jesus Christ - That is, by faith in him. The name Jesus was first known by the gentiles; the name Christ by the Jews. And they are not always placed promiscuously; but generally in a more solemn way of speaking, the Apostle says, Christ Jesus; in a more familiar, Jesus Christ. Even we - And how much more must the Gentiles, who have still less pretence to depend on their own works! Have believed - Knowing there is no other way. Because - Considering the demands of the law, and the fate of human nature, it is evident, that by the works of the law - By such an obedience as it requires. Shall no flesh living - No human creature, Jew or Gentile, be justified. Hitherto St. Paul had been considering that single question, "Are Christians obliged to observe the ceremonial law? But he here insensibly goes farther, and, by citing this scripture, shows that what he spoke directly of the ceremonial, included also the moral, law. For David undoubtedly did so, when he said, Psalm 143:2, the place here referred to, "In thy sight shall no man living be justified;" which the Apostle likewise explains, Rom 3:19,20, in such a manner as can agree to none but the moral law.
17 But if while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are still found sinners - If we continue in sin, will it therefore follow, that Christ is the minister or countenancer of sin?
18 By no means. For if I build again - By my sinful practice. The things which I destroyed - By my preaching, I only make myself - Or show myself, not Christ, to be a transgressor; the whole blame lies on me, not him or his gospel. As if he had said, The objection were just, if the gospel promised justification to men continuing in sin. But it does not. Therefore if any who profess the gospel do not live according to it, they are sinners, it is certain, but not justified, and so the gospel is clear.
19 For I through the law - Applied by the Spirit to my heart, and deeply convincing me of my utter sinfulness and helplessness. Am dead to the law - To all hope of justification from it. That I may live to God - Not continue in sin. For this very end am I, in this sense, freed from the law, that I may be freed from sin.
20 The Apostle goes on to describe how he is freed from sin; how far he is from continuing therein. I am crucified with Christ - Made conformable to his death; "the body of sin is destroyed." Rom 6:6. And I - As to my corrupt nature. Live no longer - Being dead to sin. But Christ liveth in me - Is a fountain of life in my inmost soul, from which all my tempers, words, and actions flow. And the life that I now live in the flesh - Even in this mortal body, I live by faith in the Son of God - I derive every moment from that supernatural principle; from a divine evidence and conviction, that "he loved me, and delivered up himself for me."
21 Meantime I do not make void - In seeking to be justified by my own works. The grace of God - The free love of God in Christ Jesus. But they do, who seek justification by the law. For if righteousness is by the law - If men might be justified by their obedience to the law, moral or ceremonial. Then Christ died in vain - Without any necessity for it, since men might have been saved without his death; might by their own obedience have been both discharged from condemnation, and entitled to eternal life.

Chapter III

1 O thoughtless Galatians - He breaks in upon them with a beautiful abruptness. Who hath bewitched you - Thus to contradict both your own reason and experience. Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been as evidently set forth - By our preaching, as if he had been crucified among you.
2 This only would I learn of you - That is, this one argument might convince you. Did ye receive the witness and the fruit of the Spirit by performing the works of the law, or by hearing of and receiving faith?
3 Are ye so thoughtless - As not to consider what you have yourselves experienced? Having begun in the Spirit - Having set out under the light and power of the Spirit by faith, do ye now, when ye ought to be more spiritual, and more acquainted with the power of faith, expect to be made perfect by the flesh? Do you think to complete either your justification or sanctification, by giving up that faith, and depending on the law, which is a gross and carnal thing when opposed to the gospel?
4 Have ye suffered - Both from the zealous Jews and from the heathens. So many things - For adhering to the gospel. In vain - So as to lose all the blessings which ye might have obtained, by enduring to the end. If it be yet in vain - As if he had said, I hope better things, even that ye will endure to the end.
5 And, at the present time, Doth he that ministereth the gift of the Spirit to you, and worketh miracles among you, do it by the works of the law - That is, in confirmation of his preaching justification by works, or of his preaching justification by faith?
6 Doubtless in confirmation of that grand doctrine, that we are justified by faith, even as Abraham was. The Apostle, both in this and in the epistle to the Romans, makes great use of the instance of Abraham: the rather, because from Abraham the Jews drew their great argument, as they do this day, both for their own continuance in Judaism, and for denying the gentiles to be the church of God. Gen 15:6
7 Know then that they who are partakers of his faith, these, and these only, are the sons of Abraham, and therefore heirs of the promises made to him.
8 And the scripture - That is, the Holy Spirit, who gave the scripture. Foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles also by faith, declared before - So great is the excellency and fulness of the scripture, that all the things which can ever be controverted are therein both foreseen and determined. In or through thee - As the father of the Messiah, shall all the nations be blessed. Gen 12:3
9 So then all they, and they only, who are of faith - Who truly believe. Are blessed with faithful Abraham - Receive the blessing as he did, namely, by faith.
10 They only receive it. For as many as are of the works of the law - As God deals with on that footing, only on the terms the law proposes, are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all the things which are written in the law. Who continueth not in all the things - So it requires what no man can perform, namely, perfect, uninterrupted, and perpetual obedience. Deu 27:26
11 But that none is justified by his obedience to the law in the sight of God - Whatever may be done in the sight of man, is farther evident from the words of Habakkuk, The just shall live by faith - That is, the man who is accounted just or righteous before God, shall continue in a state of acceptance, life, and salvation, by faith. This is the way God hath chosen. Hab 2:4.
12 And the law is not of faith - But quite opposite to it: it does not say, Believe; but, Do. Lev 18:5
13 Christ - Christ alone. The abruptness of the sentence shows an holy indignation at those who reject so great a blessing. Hath redeemed us - Whether Jews or gentiles, at an high price. From the curse of the law - The curse of God, which the law denounces against all transgressors of it. Being made a curse for us - Taking the curse upon himself, that we might be delivered from it, willingly submitting to that death which the law pronounces peculiarly accursed. Deu 21:23.
14 That the blessing of Abraham - The blessing promised to him. Might come on the gentiles - Also. That we - Who believe, whether Jews or gentiles. Might receive the promise of the Spirit - Which includes all the other promises. Through faith - Not by works; for faith looks wholly to the promise.
15 I speak after the manner of men - I illustrate this by a familiar instance, taken from the practice of men. Though it be but a man's covenant, yet, if it be once legally confirmed, none - No, not the covenanter himself, unless something unforeseen occur, which cannot be the case with God. Disannulleth, or addeth thereto - Any new conditions.
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and his seed - Several promises were made to Abraham; but the chief of all, and which was several times repeated, was that of the blessing through Christ. He - That is, God. Saith not, And to seeds, as of many - As if the promise were made to several kinds of seed. But as of one - That is, one kind of seed, one posterity, one kind of sons. And to all these the blessing belonged by promise. Which is Christ - including all that believe in him. Gen 22:18.
17 And this I say - What I mean is this. The covenant which was before confirmed of God - By the promise itself, by the repetition of it, and by a solemn oath, concerning the blessing all nations. Through Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after - Counting from the time when the promise was first made to Abraham, Gen 12:2,3. Doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of no effect - With regard to all nations, if only the Jewish were to receive it; yea, with regard to them also, if it was by works, so as to supersede it, and introduce another way of obtaining the blessing.
18 And again - This is a new argument. The former was drawn from the time, this from the nature, of the transaction. If the eternal inheritance be obtained by keeping the law, it is no more by virtue of the free promise - These being just opposite to each other. But it is by promise. Therefore it is not by the law.
19 It - The ceremonial law. Was added - To the promise. Because of transgressions - Probably, the yoke of the ceremonial law was inflicted as a punishment for the national sin of idolatry, Exod 32:1, at least the more grievous parts of it; and the whole of it was a prophetic type of Christ. The moral law was added to the promise to discover and restrain transgressions, to convince men of their guilt, and need of the promise, and give some check to sin. And this law passeth not away; but the ceremonial law was only introduced till Christ, the seed to or through whom the promise was made, should come. And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator - It was not given to Israel, like the promise to Abraham, immediately from God himself; but was conveyed by the ministry of angels to Moses, and delivered into his hand as a mediator between God and them, to remind them of the great Mediator.
20 Now the mediator is not a mediator of one - There must be two parties, or there can be no mediator between them; but God who made the free promise to Abraham is only one of the parties. The other, Abraham, was not present at the time of Moses. Therefore in the promise Moses had nothing to do. The law, wherein he was concerned, was a transaction of quite another nature.
21 Will it follow from hence that the law is against, opposite to, the promises of God? By no means. They are well consistent. But yet the law cannot give life, as the promise doth. If there had been a law which could have given life - Which could have entitled a sinner to life, God would have spared his own Son, and righteousness, or justification. with all the blessings consequent upon it, would have been by that law.
22 But, on the contrary, the scripture wherein that law is written hath concluded all under sin - Hath shut them up together, (so the word properly signifies,) as in a prison, under sentence of death, to the end that all being cut off from expecting justification by the law, the promise might be freely given to them that believe.
23 But before faith - That is, the gospel dispensation. Came, we were kept - As in close custody. Under the law - The Mosaic dispensation. Shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed - Reserved and prepared for the gospel dispensation.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ - It was designed to train us up for Christ. And this it did both by its commands, which showed the need we had of his atonement; and its ceremonies, which all pointed us to him.
25 But faith - That is, the gospel dispensation. Being come, we are no longer under that schoolmaster - The Mosaic dispensation.
26 For ye - Christians. Are all adult sons of God - And so need a schoolmaster no longer.
27 For as many of you as have testified your faith by being baptized in the name of Christ, have put on Christ - Have received him as your righteousness, and are therefore sons of God through him.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek - That is, there is no difference between them; they are equally accepted through faith. There is neither male nor female - Circumcision being laid aside, which was peculiar to males, and was designed to put a difference, during that dispensation, between Jews and gentiles.
29 If ye are Christ's - That is, believers in him.

Chapter IV

1 Now - To illustrate by a plain similitude the preeminence of the Christian, over the legal, dispensation. The heir, as long as he is a child - As he is under age. Differeth nothing from a servant - Not being at liberty either to use or enjoy his estate. Though he be lord - Proprietor of it all.
2 But is under tutors - As to his person. And stewards - As to his substance.
3 So we - The church of God. When we were children - In our minority, under the legal dispensation. Were in bondage - In a kind of servile state. Under the elements of the world - Under the typical observances of the law, which were like the first elements of grammar, the A B C of children; and were of so gross a nature, as hardly to carry our thoughts beyond this world.
4 But when the fulness of the time - Appointed by the Father, Gal 4:2. Was come, God sent forth - From his own bosom. His Son, miraculously made of the substance of a woman - A virgin, without the concurrence of a man. Made under the law - Both under the precept, and under the curse, of it.
5 To redeem those under the law - From the curse of it, and from that low, servile state. That we - Jews who believe. Might receive the adoption - All the privileges of adult sons.
6 And because ye - Gentiles who believe, are also thus made his adult sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts likewise, crying, Abba, Father - Enabling you to call upon God both with the confidence, and the tempers, of dutiful children. The Hebrew and Greek word are joined together, to express the joint cry of the Jews and gentiles.
7 Wherefore thou - Who believest in Christ. Art no more a servant - Like those who are under the law. But a son - Of mature age. And if a son, then an heir of all the promises, and of the all - sufficient God himself.
8 Indeed then when ye knew not God, ye served them that by nature - That is, in reality. Are no gods - And so were under a far worse bondage than even that of the Jews. For they did serve the true God, though in a low, slavish manner.
9 But now being known of God - As his beloved children. How turn ye back to the weak and poor elements - Weak, utterly unable to purge your conscience from guilt, or to give that filial confidence in God. Poor - incapable of enriching the soul with such holiness and happiness as ye are heirs to. Ye desire to be again in bondage - Though of another kind; now to these elements, as before to those idols.
10 Ye observe days - Jewish sabbaths. And months - New moons. And times - As that of the passover, pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles. And years - Annual solemnities. it does not mean sabbatic years. These were not to be observed out of the land of Canaan.
11 The apostle here, dropping the argument, applies to the affections, Gal 4:11 - 20, and humbles himself to the Galatians, with an inexpressible tenderness.
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am - Meet me in mutual love. For I am as ye were - I still love you as affectionately as ye once loved me. Why should I not? Ye have not injured me at all - I have received no personal injury from you.
13 I preached to you, notwithstanding infirmity of the flesh - That is, notwithstanding bodily weakness, and under great disadvantage from the despicableness of my outward appearance.
14 And ye did not slight my temptation - That is, ye did not slight or disdain me for my temptation, my "thorn in the flesh."
15 What was then the blessedness ye spake of - On which ye so congratulated one another.
17 They - The judaizing teachers who are come among you. Zealously affect you - Express an extraordinary regard for you. But not well - Their zeal is not according to knowledge; neither have they a single eye to your spiritual advantage. Yea, they would exclude you - From me and from the blessings of the gospel. That ye might affect - Love and esteem them.
18 In a good thing - In what is really worthy our zeal. True zeal is only fervent love.
19 My little children - He speaks as a parent, both with authority, and the most tender sympathy, toward weak and sickly children. Of whom I travail in birth again - As I did before, Gal 4:13, in vehement pain, sorrow, desire, prayer. Till Christ be formed in you - Till there be in you all the mind that was in him.
20 I could wish to be present with you now - Particularly in this exigence. And to change - Variously to attemper. My voice - He writes with much softness; but he would speak with more. The voice may more easily be varied according to the occasion than a letter can. For I stand in doubt of you - So that I am at a loss how to speak at this distance.
21 Do ye not hear the law - Regard what it says.
22 Gen 21:2,9.
23 Was born after the flesh - In a natural way. By promise - Through that supernatural strength which was given Abraham in consequence of the promise.
24 Which things are an allegory - An allegory is a figurative speech, wherein one thing is expressed, and another intended. For those two sons are types of the two covenants. One covenant is that given from mount Sinai, which beareth children to bondage - That is, all who are under this, the Jewish covenant, are in bondage. Which covenant is typified by Agar.
25 For this is mount Sinai in Arabia - That is, the type of mount Sinai. And answereth to - Resembles Jerusalem that now is, and is in bondage - Like Agar, both to the law and to the Romans.
26 But the other covenant is derived from Jerusalem that is above, which is free - Like Sarah from all inward and outward bondage, and is the mother of us all - That is, all who believe in Christ, are free citizens of the New Jerusalem.
27 For it is written - Those words in the primary sense promise a flourishing state to Judea, after its desolation by the Chaldeans. Rejoice. thou barren, that bearest not - Ye heathen nations, who, like a barren woman, were destitute, for many ages, of a seed to serve the Lord. Break forth and cry aloud for joy, thou that, in former time, travailedst not: for the desolate hath many more children than she that hath an husband - For ye that were so long utterly desolate shall at length bear more children than the Jewish church, which was of old espoused to God. Isa 54:1.
28 Now we - Who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles. Are children of the promise - Not born in a natural way, but by the supernatural power of God. And as such we are heirs of the promise made to believing Abraham.
29 But as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, so it is now also - And so it will be in all ages and nations to the end of the world.
30 But what saith the scripture - Showing the consequence of this. Cast out the bondwoman and her son - Who mocked Isaac. In like manner will God cast out all who seek to be justified by the law; especially if they persecute them who are his children by faith. Gen 21:10.
31 So then - To sum up all. We - Who believe. Are not children of the bondwoman - Have nothing to do with the servile Mosaic dispensation. But of the free - Being free from the curse and the bond of that law, and from the power of sin and Satan.

Chapter V

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty - From the ceremonial law. Wherewith Christ hath made us - And all believers, free; and be not entangled again with the yoke of legal bondage.
2 If ye be circumcised - And seek to be justified thereby. Christ - The Christian institution. Will profit you nothing - For you hereby disclaim Christ, and all the blessings which are through faith in him.
3 I testify to every man - Every gentile. That is circumcised - He thereby makes himself a debtor - Obliges.
4 Therefore Christ is become of no effect to you - Who seek to be justified by the law. Ye are fallen from grace - Ye renounce the new covenant. Ye disclaim the benefit of this gracious dispensation.
5 For we - Who believe in Christ, Who are under the gospel dispensation. Through the Spirit - Without any of those carnal ordinances. Wait for - in sure confidence of attaining. The hope of righteousness - The righteousness we hope for, and full reward of it. This righteousness we receive of God through faith; and by faith we shall obtain the reward.
6 For in Christ Jesus - According to the institution which he hath established, according to the tenor of the Christian covenant. Neither circumcision - With the most punctual observance of the law. Nor uncircumcision - With the most exact heathen morality. Availeth anything - Toward present justification or eternal salvation. But faith - Alone; even that faith which worketh by love - All inward and outward holiness.
7 Ye did run well - In the race of faith. Who hath hindered you in your course, that ye should not still obey the truth?
8 This your present persuasion cometh not from God, who called you - to his kingdom and glory.
9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump - One troubler, ver.10, troubles all.
10 Yet I have confidence that - After ye have read this. Ye will be no otherwise minded - Than I am, and ye were. But he that troubleth you - It seems to have been one person chiefly who endeavoured to seduce them. Shall bear his judgment - A heavy burden, already hanging over his head.
11 But if I still preach circumcision - As that troubler seems to have affirmed, probably taking occasion from his having circumcised Timothy. Why do I still suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased - The grand reason why the Jews were so offended at his preaching Christ crucified, and so bitterly persecuted him for it, was, that it implied the abolition of the law. Yet St. Paul did not condemn the conforming, out of condescension to the weakness of any one, even to the ceremonial law; but he did absolutely condemn those who taught it as necessary to justification.
12 I would they were even cut off - From your communion; cast out of your church, that thus trouble you.
13 Ye have been called to liberty - From sin and misery, as well as from the ceremonial law. Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh - Take not occasion from hence to gratify corrupt nature. But by love serve one another - And hereby show that Christ has made you free.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself - inasmuch as none can do this without loving God, 1John 4:12; and the love of God and man includes all perfection. Lev 19:18.
15 But if - On the contrary, in consequence of the divisions which those troublers have occasioned among you, ye bite one another by evil speaking. And devour one another - By railing and clamour. Take heed ye be not consumed one of another - By bitterness, strife, and contention, our health and strength, both of body and soul, are consumed, as well as our substance and reputation.
16 I say then - He now explains what he proposed, Gal 5:13. Walk by the Spirit - Follow his guidance in all things. And fulfil not - In anything. The desire of the flesh - Of corrupt nature.
17 For the flesh desireth against the Spirit - Nature desires what is quite contrary to the Spirit of God. But the Spirit against the flesh - - But the Holy Spirit on his part opposes your evil nature. These are contrary to each other - The flesh and the Spirit; there can be no agreement between them. That ye may not do the things which ye would - - That, being thus strengthened by the Spirit, ye may not fulfil the desire of the flesh, as otherwise ye would do.
18 But if ye are led by the Spirit - Of liberty and love, into all holiness. Ye are not under the law - Not under the curse or bondage of it; not under the guilt or the power of sin.
19 Now the works of the flesh - By which that inward principle is discovered. Are manifest - Plain and undeniable. Works are mentioned in the plural because they are distinct from, and often inconsistent with, each other. But "the fruit of the Spirit" is mentioned in the singular, Ga 5:22, as being all consistent and connected together. Which are these - He enumerates those "works of the flesh" to which the Galatians were most inclined; and those parts of "the fruit of the Spirit" of which they stood in the greatest need. Lasciviousness - The Greek word means anything inward or outward that is contrary to chastity, and yet short of actual uncleanness.
20 Idolatry, witchcraft - That this means witchcraft, strictly speaking, (not poisoning,) appears from its being joined with the worship of devil - gods, and not with murder. This is frequently and solemnly forbidden in the Old Testament. To deny therefore that there is, or ever was, any such thing, is, by plain consequence, to deny the authority both of the Old and New Testament. Divisions - In domestic or civil matters. Heresies are divisions in religious communities.
21 Revellings - Luxurious entertainments. Some of the works here mentioned are wrought principally, if not entirely, in the mind; and yet they are called "works of the flesh." Hence it is clear, the apostle does not by "the flesh" mean the body, or sensual appetites and inclinations only, but the corruption of human nature, as it spreads through all the powers of the soul, as well as all the members of the body. Of which I tell you before - Before the event, I forewarn you.
22 Love - The root of all the rest. Gentleness - Toward all men; ignorant and wicked men in particular. Goodness - The Greek word means all that is benign, soft, winning, tender, either in temper or behaviour.
23 Meekness - Holding all the affections and passions in even balance.
24 And they that are Christ's - True believers in him. Have thus crucified the flesh - Nailed it, as it were, to a cross whence it has no power to break loose, but is continually weaker and weaker. With its affections and desires - All its evil passions, appetites, and inclinations.
25 If we live by the Spirit - If we are indeed raised from the dead, and are alive to God, by the operation of his Spirit. Let us walk by the Spirit - Let us follow his guidance, in all our tempers, thoughts, words, and actions.
26 Be not desirous of vain glory - Of the praise or esteem of men. They who do not carefully and closely follow the Spirit, easily slide into this: the natural effects of which are, provoking to envy them that are beneath us, and envying them that are above us.

Chapter VI

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in any fault - By surprise, ignorance, or stress of temptation. Ye who are spiritual - Who continue to live and walk by the Spirit. Restore such an one - By reproof, instruction, or exhortation. Every one who can, ought to help herein; only in the spirit of meekness - This is essential to a spiritual man; and in this lies the whole force of the cure. Considering thyself - The plural is beautifully changed into the singular. Let each take heed to himself. Lest thou also be tempted - Temptation easily and swiftly passes from one to another; especially if a man endeavours to cure another without preserving his own meekness.
2 Bear ye one another's burdens - Sympathize with, and assist, each other, in all your weaknesses, grievances, trials. And so fulfil the law of Christ - The law of Christ (an uncommon expression) is the law of love: this our Lord peculiarly recommends; this he makes the distinguishing mark of his disciples.
3 If any one think himself to be something - Above his brethren, or by any strength of his own. When he is nothing, he deceiveth himself - He alone will bear their burdens, who knows himself to be nothing.
4 But let every man try his own work - Narrowly examine all he is, and all he doeth. And then he shall have rejoicing in himself - He will find in himself matter of rejoicing, if his works are right before God. And not in another - Not in glorying over others.
5 For every one shall bear his own burden - ln that day shall give an account of himself to God.
6 Let him that is taught impart to him that teacheth all such temporal good things as he stands in need of.
7 God is not mocked - Although they attempt to mock him, who think to reap otherwise than they sow.
8 For he that now soweth to the flesh - That follows the desires of corrupt nature. Shall hereafter of the flesh - Out of this very seed. Reap corruption - Death everlasting. But he that soweth to the Spirit - That follows his guidance in all his tempers and conversation. Shall of the Spirit - By the free grace and power of God, reap life everlasting.
9 But let us not be weary in well doing - Let us persevere in sowing to the Spirit. For in due season - When the harvest is come, we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 Therefore as we have opportunity - At whatever time or place, and in whatever manner we can. The opportunity in general is our lifetime; but there are also many particular opportunities. Satan is quickened in doing hurt, by the shortness of the time, Rev 12:12. By the same consideration let us be quickened in doing good. Let us do good - In every possible kind, and in every possible degree. Unto all men - Neighbours or strangers, good or evil, friends or enemies. But especially to them who are of the household of faith. For all believers are but one family.
11 Ye see how large a letter - St. Paul had not yet wrote a larger to any church. I have written with my own hand - He generally wrote by an amanuensis.
12 As many as desire to make a fair appearance in the flesh - To preserve a fair character. These constrain you - Both by their example and importunity. To be circumcised - Not so much from a principle of conscience, as lest they should suffer persecution - From the unbelieving Jews. For the cross of Christ - For maintaining that faith in a crucified Saviour is alone sufficient for justification.
13 For neither they themselves keep the whole law - So far are they from a real zeal for it. But yet they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh - That they may boast of you as their proselytes, and make a merit of this with the other Jews.
14 But God forbid that I should glory - Should boast of anything I have, am, or do; or rely on anything for my acceptance with God, but what Christ hath done and suffered for me. By means of which the world is crucified to me - All the things and persons in it are to me as nothing. And I unto the world - I am dead to all worldly pursuits, cares, desires, and enjoyments.
15 For neither circumcision is anything, nor uncircumcision - Neither of these is of any account. But a new creation - Whereby all things in us become new.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule -
  1. Glorying only in the cross of Christ.
  2. Being crucified to the world. And,
  3. Created anew.
Peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel, that is, the Church, of God - Which consists of all those, and those only, of every nation and kindred, who walk by this rule.
17 From henceforth let none trouble me - By quarrels and disputes. For I bear - And afflictions should not be added to the afflicted. In my body the marks of the Lord Jesus - The scars, marks, and brands of my sufferings for Him.

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