Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Galatians 4:12-16 Messianic Style


We last left Paul taking the Galatians to task for returning to pagan practices. He ended by saying that he was afraid that he had labored among them in vain. Paul went on to speak of their relationship.

Galatians 4:12-16 (KJV)
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

In spite of Paul's frustration with the Galatians, he called them brethren in verse 12. This indicated that he considered these Galatians as truly born again members of the body of Yeshua. This also reveals that they had not lost their salvation. He told them to become like him in the same way that he had become like them. This should remind us of another statement of Paul.

1 Corinthians 9:19 (KJV)
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

So, as Paul had embraced living among Gentiles by forgoing many of the Jewish customs that he had considered for most of his life as essential, he wanted the Gentiles to embrace a life devoted to God without their pagan customs. The last part of verse 12 indicates that Paul was assuring the Galatians that he recognized that they had not injured or offended him in any way.

Verse 13 hints at a physical or spiritual infirmity that Paul had. We read about this in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 12:7 (KJV)
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

There have been many speculations on what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" may have been. The ideas range from stuttering, epilepsy, weak vision, emotional suffering, a recurring temptation, to the presence of a demonic spirit (Stern, David, Jewish New Testament Commentary, 517-518). Whatever Paul's condition may have been, he still managed to preach the Gospel to the Galatians. They also received the message without despising or rejecting Paul on the basis of his infirmity. They accepted Paul as if he were an angel of God or Yeshua, himself (verse 14).

Paul then asked them, "Where are your blessings (verse 15)?" Paul was wondering why after they had accepted the Gospel so graciously from him that they turned back to paganism. Why weren't they living in the blessings that should have resulted from their reception of the Gospel? Paul added that when he had last seen them he would have believed that the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes for him. (This gives further credibility to the idea that Paul's infirmity may have had something to do with his eyes.)

In verse 16 Paul asked, "Am I now your enemy because I proclaimed the truth?"

Next, we will learn more about the false teachers that have been trying to pervert the message that Paul had preached.


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