Galatians 4:31 MEANING

Galatians 4:31
Verse 31. - In the Greek text of this verse, taken in connection with the first of the next chapter, there is a great diversity of readings. The following are the forms in which it is presented by the principal editors: -

(1) Textus Receptus: Ἄρα ἀδελφοί οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ οϋν ῇ Ξριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεθε.

(2) L. T. Tr., Meyer, Revisers, W. and H.: θέρας. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Ξριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε οϋν καὶ μὴ κ.τ.λ..

(3) Ellicott: Διό, ἀδελφοί οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ η΅ι ἡμᾶς Ξριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε στήκετε οϋν καὶ κ.τ.λ..

(4) Lightfoot: Διό ἀδελφοί οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας τῇ ἐλευθεριᾴ η΅ι ἡμᾶς Ξριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε στήκετε οϋν καὶ κ.τ.λ.. The following are the probable translations of these several forms of the text: -

(1) "Therefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman: stand fast then in [or, 'by,' or, 'to'] the freedom with which Christ set us free; and do not again get held in a yoke of bondage."

(2) "Wherefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman: with freedom did Christ set us free; stand fast, then," etc.

(3) "Wherefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman; in the freedom with which Christ set us free stand fast, then, and," etc.

(4) "Wherefore, brethren, we are not a hand maid's children, but children of the free woman by [i.e. 'by virtue of'] the freedom [or, 'children of her who is free with that free dora'] with which Christ set us free; stand fast, then, and," etc. It will be seen by the above that there appears a general agreement among recent editors of the Greek text upon three points:

(1) they all substitute διὸ for ἄρα - an alteration which makes no difference whatever in the sense;

(2) they expunge the οϋν after ἐλευθερίᾳ;

(3) they insert οϋν after στήκετε. The forms

(3) and

(4) are identical except in the punctuation. The construction of the dative ἐλευθερίᾳ with στήκετε in forms

(1) and

(3) is difficult, and has not yet been quite satisfactorily accounted for. We miss the preposition ἐν, to express the idea of immanence which is evidently intended, and to express which ἐν is elsewhere found present; as 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8. The arrangement given in form

(3) is, in addition, greatly embarrassed by the "then" standing so far on in the sentence - this particle marking, as it does, an inference from the sentence in the preceding verse. The furthest place in the sentence adduced by Winer ('Gram. N. T.,' § 61) is the fourth word, in 1 Corinthians 8:4. The fourth form presents by far the easiest construction. It seems strange, however, if this was the original text, that it came to be changed into shapes so much more difficult to construe. In the second form, the clause, "with freedom did Christ set us free," seems somewhat strangely phrased; but this iteration of the idea of freedom, marking the apostle's anxious insistance upon it, may have led the copyists to suspect an error of transcription, and thus have set them upon the endeavour to improve, as they thought, the text before them. The same anxious insistance upon an idea leads the apostle to a somewhat similar introduction of a clause which is almost a parenthesis, in Ephesians 2:5, "By grace have ye been saved." It will be noticed that the variations in the text above noted make not the smallest difference in the main contents of thought. The same factors of thought are present in all. The further remarks now to be made will assume for their basis the second form of the text. Wherefore, brethren, we are not a handmaid's children, but children of the freewoman. This, διό (Receptus, ἄρα) gathers up the result of the whole foregoing allegorical exposition, not that of its concluding portion only, as a basis for practical remark. "We are not a handmaid's children;" that is, "It is not a slave-girl that is our mother." The article is wanting before παιδίσκης, not because the apostle is thinking, as some imagine, of there being other handmaids besides Mosaism, as, for example, heathen ceremonialism; for the context points to only one slave-girl that can possibly answer to Hagar; but because he wishes by contrast to fasten attention upon the character of her who is our mother. Hence also there is no ἡμεῖς or ὑμεῖς, as in ver. 28. "But children of the freewoman," or "of her who is free;" not defining what individual is our mother, but, who our mother is being now assumed as known, marking what her condition is. With freedom did Christ set us free (τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Ξριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε). 'This clause both justifies and explains the word "freewoman." Our mother is a freewoman, because all her children have been emancipated by Christ; and the nature of her freedom is likewise defined by the nature of his work. This sense is more directly asserted in the fourth form of the Greek text - "children of the freewoman by the freedom with which Christ set us free;" but it is in reality contained in the second. Christ's emancipating work was twofold: he at once, by his atonement, effected our deliverance from guilt, and by the manner of his death (Galatians 3:13) disconnected his people from the ceremonial Law. The former aspect of his work is essential to the beneficial effect of the latter. The clear realization of the fact that he has effected our perfect reconciliation with God cuts up from its roots all desire even, that we should ourselves strive, either to make or to keep ourselves acceptable with God by obedience to a Law of positive ordinances; while we also must see that, as connected with a Crucified One, it is impossible that we can be in harmony with the Mosaic ritual. A desire to Judaize cannot eoexist with true faith in our crucified Redeemer. By affirming that Christ hath set us free, the apostle points, not merely to our release from real or fancied obligation to obey the Law of Moses, but also to our "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation "(Romans 5:11). Stand fast, therefore. According to this reading, στήκετε standing alone receives its colour of reference from the context. So 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Here it means the steadfast holding to a whole-hearted assurance that in Christ Jesus our freedom is complete. And do not again get held in a yoke of bondage. The verb ἐνέχομαι ισ used (Herod., 2:121) literally of being caught and held fast by a man-trap; also figuratively of being entangled with perplexities (ἀπορίῃσιν, Herod., 1:190), with a curse, or with guilt, or with arbitrary dicta of a teacher (see Liddell and Scott). The condition of a slave is described by the word "yoke," 1 Timothy 6:1, Ὅσοι εἰσὶν ὑπὸ ζυγὸν δοῦλοι, "As many as are bond-servants under the yoke." And it was probably with this particular shade of meaning that St. Peter used the term at the conference at Jerusalem respecting the ceremonial Law (Acts 15:10) - "a yoke which neither we nor our fathers had strength enough to bear;" referring to it, we may suppose, as slavery, not merely because obedience to it was difficult, but as being observed from a legalistic anxiety to approve one's self thereby to the Divine acceptance or to escape the Divine displeasure. This view of the passage explains how the apostle was able to use the word "again" of these Galatian converts. They had been once under the yoke of an "evil conscience;" but Christ had come to them also, who were "afar off" in Gentile guiltiness, preaching peace, as he had come to them that were "nigh" in the Israelite covenant (Ephesians 2:17). But if they could not have "peace" and "access to the Father" save through conformity with Mosaic eeremonialism, then their "freedom" was forfeited; they sank back again into their former state of bondage. But see also the note on ver. 9. This exhortation to "stand fast" presupposes that they had not yet lapsed, but were only in danger of it (comp. the μετατίθεσθε of Galatians 1:6).

4:28-31 The history thus explained is applied. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond-woman, but of the free. If the privileges of all believers were so great, according to the new covenant, how absurd for the Gentile converts to be under that law, which could not deliver the unbelieving Jews from bondage or condemnation! We should not have found out this allegory in the history of Sarah and Hagar, if it had not been shown to us, yet we cannot doubt it was intended by the Holy Spirit. It is an explanation of the subject, not an argument in proof of it. The two covenants of works and grace, and legal and evangelical professors, are shadowed forth. Works and fruits brought forth in a man's own strength, are legal. But if arising from faith in Christ, they are evangelical. The first covenant spirit is of bondage unto sin and death. The second covenant spirit is of liberty and freedom; not liberty to sin, but in and unto duty. The first is a spirit of persecution; the second is a spirit of love. Let those professors look to it, who have a violent, harsh, imposing spirit, towards the people of God. Yet as Abraham turned aside to Hagar, so it is possible a believer may turn aside in some things to the covenant of works, when through unbelief and neglect of the promise he acts according to the law, in his own strength; or in a way of violence, not of love, towards the brethren. Yet it is not his way, not his spirit to do so; hence he is never at rest, till he returns to his dependence on Christ again. Let us rest our souls on the Scriptures, and by a gospel hope and cheerful obedience, show that our conversation and treasure are indeed in heaven.So then, brethren,.... This is the conclusion of the whole allegory, or the mystical interpretation of Agar and Sarah, and their sons:

we are not children of the bondwoman; the figure of the first covenant, which gendered to bondage, and typified the Jews in a state, and under a spirit of bondage to the law; New Testament saints are not under it, are delivered from it, and are dead unto it:

but of the free; of Sarah, that was a type of the new and second covenant; and answered to the Gospel church, which is free from the yoke of the law; and whose children believers in Christ are, by whom they are made free from all thraldom and slavery; so the children of the mistress and of the maidservant are opposed to each other by the Jews (k). The Vulgate Latin version adds to this verse from the beginning of the next chapter, "with the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free"; and the Ethiopic version, "because Christ hath made us free"; and begin the next chapter thus, "therefore stand, and be not entangled", &c. and so the Alexandrian copy, and three of Stephens's.

(k) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 152. 1.

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