Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have laboured over you in vain.
Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Comment: There are several people or groups of people talked about here.
- God, the True and Only True God, Jehovah the Great I AM, who is compared to any other ‘god’ that is any idol or concept, any elementary principle that is in the world and which enslaves people into its service.
- Paul himself who he describes as having been welcomed extremely warmly and listened to and believed in spite of some nasty (probably very unsightly) eye problem. He is confused as to how and why they have changed their opinion of him and the glorious freeing gospel which they had heard and believed. He still thinks of them as his children in the faith and his heart bleeds for them.
- The enemies who have come into their midst. Here their title is only ‘they’ but whoever they are (no doubt the previous ones who tried to bring the believers under at least portions of Jewish laws and traditions). They are seeking to change the Galatians’ faith and to bring them under their control.
- The people of the Galatian church previously so delighted in the freedom that knowing Jesus as their Saviour brought, are now unsettled and are considering coming to feel that they need to add their own works, their submission to the law, as part of their method of salvation.
Prayer: May I be awake to Your Truth and flee from error.