Galatians 4:18 MEANING

Galatians 4:18
(18) It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing.--A disinterested zeal between teachers and taught is indeed good in itself. The Apostle does not wish to dissuade the Galatians from that. He would be only too glad to see such a mutual interchange himself--in his absence as well as in his presence. It seems a mistake to refer this either to the Galatians alone or to St. Paul alone. The proposition is stated in a general form, so as to cover both. It is right to be zealously affected always. Their eager zeal should not have its ebbs and flows, but should subsist constantly, whether those between whom it is felt are present together or not.

In a good thing.--This expression corresponds to "but not well" in the last verse, and means honestly, disinterestedly, with a view to the spread of the gospel, and not to personal ascendancy.

Verse 18. - But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you (καλὸν δὲ ζηλοῦσθαι, [Receptus, τὸ ζηλοῦσθαι] ἐν καλῷ παντότε καὶ μὴ μόνον ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με πρὸς ὑμᾶς); but good it is to be admired, in what is good, at all times and not only when I am present with you. That is, but as to being admired and felicitated, the good kind of admiring felicitation is that which, being tendered on a good account, is enjoyed at all times, and not only, my little children, when 1 am with you, as on that first occasion when you were so full of mutual felicitation and joy in the newly found sense of God's adoption and love in Christ Jesus. In signification, this ζηλοῦσθαι, to be admired, is equivalent to μακαρίζεσθαι, to be congratulated, and was illustrated in the first note on ver. 17, especially by the reference to Aristophanes, 'Nubes,' 1188. Ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν τῷ παρεῖναι με πρὸς ὑμας, "to be objects of admiration when I am present with you," is manifestly a recital of the μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν, "the gratulation of yourselves," of ver. 15. The vivid remembrance of the simple-hearted joy and frank sympathy with each other's happiness of those days comes back to the apostle's mind with fresh force, after his brief mention and rebuke of the false-hearted gratulations and compliments by which they were now in danger of being ensnared. With a gentle reprehension of their levity, in that they were now bartering that former well-founded happiness for this later poor gratification of being recipients of mere false flattery, he yearns to bring them back to what they were so senselessly casting away, and that they should hold it fast, a stable joy, whether he was with them or not. This would be the case if "Christ were truly formed in them." The phrase, ἐν καλῷ, "in what is good," is similar to ἐν κρυπτῷ (John 7:4); ὁ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος (Romans 2:28, 29). The sphere in which this admiring felicitation acts must be "what is good;" here that highest good which these Galatians were in danger of losing, if, indeed, they possessed it - being, and knowing themselves to be, sons of God. It is a doubtful point whether ver. 19 should be conjoined with this present verse, with a colon between vers. 19 and 20, and a comma only at the end of ver. 18; or whether the sentences should be separated as they appear in our Authorized Version. But at all events, the earnest, anxious, tender affectionateness which, as it were, wrings the apostle's heart in writing ver. 19, is to be felt already working in his soul in the writing of this eighteenth verse. The sense above given to the verb ζηλοῦν, though disallowed by Alford and Bishops Ellicott and Lightfoot, appears to be that recognized by the Greek commentators Chrysostom and Theophylact.

4:12-18 The apostle desires that they would be of one mind with him respecting the law of Moses, as well as united with him in love. In reproving others, we should take care to convince them that our reproofs are from sincere regard to the honour of God and religion and their welfare. The apostle reminds the Galatians of the difficulty under which he laboured when he first came among them. But he notices, that he was a welcome messenger to them. Yet how very uncertain are the favour and respect of men! Let us labour to be accepted of God. You once thought yourselves happy in receiving the gospel; have you now reason to think otherwise? Christians must not forbear speaking the truth, for fear of offending others. The false teachers who drew the Galatians from the truth of the gospel were designing men. They pretended affection, but they were not sincere and upright. An excellent rule is given. It is good to be zealous always in a good thing; not for a time only, or now and then, but always. Happy would it be for the church of Christ, if this zeal was better maintained.But it is good to be zealously affected,.... A zealous affection when right is very commendable, as the instances of Phinehas, Elijah, John the Baptist, and our Lord Jesus Christ show, and a contrary spirit is very disagreeable. But then it must be expressed

in a good thing; in a good cause, for God, and the things of Christ; for the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, and for the discipline of God's house, and against immorality and profaneness, errors and heresies: and it should be "always"; not at certain times, and upon some particular accounts, but it should be constant, and always continue; it should be ever the same towards God, Christ, and his ministers:

and not only when I am present with you; by which the apostle suggests, that while he was with them they were zealously attached to him and truth; but no sooner was he gone from them, but their zealous affection abated, and was fixed on others, which discovered their weakness, fickleness, and inconstancy; whereas he was always the same to them, and bore the same love to them, as the following words show.

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