Page images

Conduct of some Jews.

I preach among the Gentiles; but privately to those who were of reputation, lest I should 3 run, or had run, in vain. But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Gentile, was com4 pelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren artfully introduced, who had come in privily to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might 5 bring us into bondage: To whom we did not give place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might con6 tinue with you. But concerning those who seemed to be something, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person: for) they who seemed to be something, in conference added nothing But, on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to me, as the gospel of the cir8 cumcision was to Peter; (For he that wrought (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same wrought powerfully 9 in me towards the Gentiles :) And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was bestowed on me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember

7 to me:


3-5. Titus, who, &c. Paul took Titus, a believing Gentile, as his companion, to show what was his opinion about consorting with Gentile converts; nor was he compelled to be circumcised. Paul would not suffer it, to gratify some false brethren, who had crept in among them, for the purpose of discovering their opinions and exposing them. From Acts xv. 1, 2, 24, we learn that these false brethren were Pharisees. The reason why the apostle resisted was, to maintain the freedom of Christians, as such, from all Mosaic rites and observances.

6-10. To be something. Men of eminence, as were the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, These in conference added nothing to, his knowledge, or authority; but on learning his success in preaching to the Gentiles, they concluded that Christ had entrusted him with the gospel for the benefit and salvation of the Gentiles, as he had Peter with it for the conversion of the Jews-Pillars. The leading men among the apostles.The poor. The poor Christians who were at Jerusalem, and in Judea. See Rom. xv. 26, and 2 Cor. ix 1, &c.

Peter and Barnabas blamed.

the poor; which very thing I was earnest also to do.

But when Peter had come to Antioch, I 1 withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed. For before some persons came 12 from James, he ate with the Gentiles: but when they had come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcision. And the other Jews also dissembled 13 with him; so that Barnabas likewise was carried away by their dissimulation. But when 14 I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter, in the presence of them all, "If thou, being a Jew, live according to the manner of the Gentiles, and not according to that of the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live like the Jews? We, who are Jews by 15 nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Know- 16 ing that a man is not accounted righteous by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ; even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accounted righteous by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be accounted righteous. But if, while we seek to be 17 accounted righteous by Christ, we ourselves are still found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? By no means. For if I build again 18

11-13. Blamed. For not acting according to his own convictions, and the revelation which had been made to him. See Acts x. and xi.-From James. This apostle abode at Jerusalem, and the persons who came from him were Jewish believers, who were zealous for the law. Peter being afraid of exciting their prejudices, withdrew from that friendly intercourse with the Gentile converts, which he had before maintained, and all the other Jews followed his example.

14. Not uprightly. This shows that the apostles were not perfect characters; but when not under the powerful influence of the Spirit, were liable to fall, and become guilty of an unsuitable behaviour.—According to the manner of the Gentiles Eating with them, and of food which, to a Jew, is unclean. Why do you this at one time, and then at another, refusing to eat with them, and by so doing wish to lead the Gentiles to believe that Jewish rites are yet to be observed; these very rites which you yourselves occasionally disregard? How inconsistent is this conduct! For we, who are Jews by nature, born so, &c.

16. Even we have believed, &c. And if it be necessary for us to believe in Christ for justification, it is manifest that we neither are, nor can be, justified by the observance of the law; and why then should we attempt to impose it on the Gentiles, since by the works of the law shall no flesh, &c. Rom. iii. 20.; iv. 15, &c.

17. Are still found sinners. And need the aid of the law to justify us, to secure our pardon and acceptance, then indeed is not Christ the minister of sin, leaving those who believe in him under it, and subject to all its conse quences? By no means. This question implies the apostle's indignation at such a thought.

18. If I build again, &c. Paul speaks in his own person, but includes Peter and the other preachers of the gospel. If we re-establish the law and its rites as necessary to salvation, which, by our decree at Jerusalem and our preaching, we have declared not to be binding, we prove ourselves transgres

The use of the law.

the things which I destroyed, I make my 19 self a transgressor. For I through the law, have died to the law, that I might live unto 20 God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, 21 and gave himself for me. I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness for acceptance come by the law, then Christ died in



[blocks in formation]

CHAP. 11!

REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER I. 1. With what prudence did the apostle make known the blessed gospel in all its extent and freeness! Peculiarly instructed in the abolition of Jewish ceremonies, and properly regarding them as of no saving efficacy, he would no further submit to them than it might be necessary to conciliate the prejudiced, and to avoid giving offence. He knew that many who had believed, thought the law binding, and that they wished to impose the observance of it on Gentile converts; but this he resisted in the case of Titus. With what evidence did he support the divine authority of bis office, as equal to that of Peter or of any other apostle. And when he found Peter and others not walking consistently, he boldly reproved them, and unanswerably proved that even they admitted, that the observance of the law could not be the ground of their pardon and acceptance to life, as they had believed in Christ that they might enjoy these inestimable blessings. Nor did they, nor could they, make any feasible reply to this statement.

2. We should learn from the conduct of Paul, to contend earnestly for justification by faith in Christ, in opposition to that by works

sors by deceiving others. But I solemnly, for myself, declare, that through a full knowledge of the law, I have died to the law as affording me any ground of justification; and in consequence have believed in Christ, that I may live unto God.

20. Crucified with, &c. See note, Rom. vii. 4.-) Nevertheless I live. Having been raised with him, by the work of his Spirit; yea, Christ lives in me, as I lead my present life by faith in him, as having loved me, and given up himself for me.

21. Come by the law, &c. If this blessing could be obtained by our moral obedience, or by any ceremonial observances, the death of Christ would have been in vain, and the grace of God in the gospel made void and destroyed.

CHAP. III. 1. Imposed on you. As if by power of magic, as the word ignifies. Griesbach rejects the words in the inner margin, as they are wanting in many of the best mss. as well as several versions and fathers; and the words quong you are very doubtful. The sense is complete without them.

Believers children of Abraham.

dently set forth [among you] as crucified? This 2 only I desire to learn from yon, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so unwise? having 3 begun with the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many 4 things in vain? if it be indeed in vain. He 5 therefore that ministered to you the Spirit, and wrought miracles among you, did he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and 6 it was accounted to him in order to righteousness. Know therefore that those who are of 7 faith, are the children of Abraham. And the 8 scripture, foreseeing that God would account the Gentiles righteous through faith, proclaimed before glad tidings to Abraham, saying,

1. that ye should not obey the truth, Griesb. Mss. versions, Fathers. of any kind. If we have a just sense of our sins, we are convinced that by the deeds of the law, which we have so often transgressed, we cannot be justified or accounted and treated as righteous. On the other hand, we cannot but conclude, that the law in case of the least failure, instead of a quitting, condemns us; and we deserve, and, unless grace prevent, must suffer the righteous penalty of it. Thus through the law, we become dead to all hope and expectation of being saved by it; and thankfully look to the atoning blood and perfect obedience of Christ, as the divinely appointed ground of hope, and as being perfectly adequate to secure the final happiness of all who trust in him. In this manner we live by faith in Christ, as having loved us and given himself for us! And in this method of saving us how gloriously is divine grace displayed! Without any works of ours, but solely out of regard to what Christ has done and suffered, we are forgiven and accepted to eternal life. Let us never then endure any sentiment which would make void this interesting and all-important doctrine of grace; nor for a moment admit that Christ died in vain, or shed his blood for nought.

-Before whose eyes. Paul had exhibited the person of the Saviour in so lively a manner to them, and especially his crucifixion, that they might be considered as having seen him giving up himself for them.

2-5. The Spirit In his gifts and graces, as the spirit of adoption, and the earnest of glory. Did you receive this by the works of the law or by,&c. —Having begun, &c. With receiving the Spirit by the gospel, do you now seek to be perfect by the flesh, by carnal ordinances, such as the law enjoins? Middleton considers zupari and ongu as used adverbially, for "spiritually and carnally."If it be yet in vain. They had suffered much on account of the gospel; and if they could not be saved by it, they bad suffered in vain. -He that ministered, &c. Paul doubtless speaks of himself, as baving con ferred the Spirit in his gifts, and wrought miracles among them; and this was not done by the law, but by faith; by the faith of him who communicated, and of you who received these blessings.

7. Who are of faith. Or "who have faith," are the children of Abraham; his spiritual seed. See Rom. iv. 10-18.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Covenant with Abraham.

"In thee shall all nations be blessed." So then those that are of faith are blessed with 10 faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book 11 of the law, to do them." But that no man is accounted righteous by the law in the sight of God, is evident: for, "The righteous by 12 faith, shall live." Now the law is not of faith: but, "He that doeth them, shall live by them." 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us: (for it is written, "Cursed is every one that hangeth 14 on a tree:") That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of 15 the Spirit by faith. Brethren, (I speak according to the manner of men ;) Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, 16 no man disannulleth it, or addeth to it. Now

to Abraham and his seed the promises were made. (He saith not, "And to seeds," as of many; but as of one," And to thy seed," which 17 is Christ.) And this I say, that the covenant, which was before confirmed by God in respect to Christ, the law, which was four hundred


8. The scripture. Here foresight is attributed to the scripture, because it contained the promise mentioned. Gen. xxii. 18.

10. Of the works of the law. These are opposed to those who "are of faith," or who had faith in the divine promise, and expected mercy as promised. They must be denoted, who relying on their moral obedience, or ceremonial, had no faith in God's promise, and hence are in fact under a curse.

11. Is evident. By the testimony of the prophet. "For the just or righteous by faith, &c." Hebr. ii. 4. Rom. iii. 17.

12. The law is not of faith. It does not require faith, but works, nor will it acquit a believer, but only such as perfectly keep it.

13, 14. Redeemed us, &c. By submitting to bear it in his own body on the tree, with the kind design that the "blessing of Abraham, &c." This blessing is specified, that Gentiles, by believing, might receive the promised Spirit through Christ Jesus; and thus be adopted as part of God's family.

15-19. A man's covenant. When duly ratified, is not altered in any respect; so we may expect the covenant made with Abraham to be literally fulfilled. For to him and his the promises were made. Not to all that sprang from him; but to his seed by Isaac; and the promises centre in one great person, the Lord Jesus. Now the law given so long after cannot be supposed to disaunul this prior covenant, which had so direct a reference to Christ.

The end and design of the law.

and thirty years after, cannot disannul, so as to make the promise of no effect. For if the 18 inheritance be by the law, it is no more by promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. To what purpose then was the law? It 19 was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and the law was given, through the ministry of angels, by the hand of a mediator. [Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but 20 God is one.] Is the law then against the pro- 21 mises of God? By no means: for if a law had been given which could have bestowed life, verily righteousness would have been by the law. But the scripture hath shut up all under 22 sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But 23 before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up to the faith which should afterwards be revealed. So that the law was our guide 24 to Christ, that we might be accounted righteous by faith. But now faith is come, we are 25 no longer under a guide. For ye are all the 26 children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For 27 as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither 28 Jew nor Gentile, there is neither bond nor

18. The inheritance. Of the earthly Canaan to his natural seed, and to his spiritual, that of life and happiness in heaven. See Rom. iv. 4, 14, &c. This was given to Abraham by promise; and his seed have ever enjoyed it as a gift, and not as a matter of debt due to them for obedience to the law.

19. To what purpose, &c. The apostle anticipates this objection.—— The seed should come, &c. To whom the promise had a special reference VOL. III. PART XXIII. U u

-The ministry of angels. Acts vii. 53. Hebr. ii. 2. They attended God on Sinai, as his servants.- ·By the hand of a mediator. Of Moses, who was the mediator between God and Israel, on the giving of the law.

20. Now a mediator, &c. A mediator supposes more parties than one; and of these parties the unchangeable God is one. As this verse thus explained, seems to have scarcely any bearing on the subject, I agree with Michaelis and others, in considering it a marginal gloss. I have included it in brackets.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Believers not under the law;

free, there is neither male nor female: for ye 29 are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise.



A. D. 59. Christ having come we are no longer under the law; he illustrates the nature of the two dispensations, the law and the gospel.



Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth in nothing from a servant, 2 though he be master of all; But is under tutors and guardians until the time appointed 3 by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in servitude under the elements 4 of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, 5 made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem those that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Let us

REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER III. 1. It should be matter of unfeigned thankfulness, that Christ has been so evidently set forth among us as crucified. He is thus exhibited in the Holy Scriptures and in the ministry of the blessed gospel. Let us make this object familiar to our view and to our hearts: and may we ever feel its powerful and sacred influence to engage us to "obey the truth." guard against the insinuating poison of error, lest after having begun in the Spirit, we should seek to be made perfect by the flesh; and thus by forsaking the true principles of the gospel, foolishly seek to the law for relief. How weak must it be to expect that law to justify us which we have so long and so often transgressed. Rather let us, like Abraham, believe in God, and trust in Jesus, that we may obtain that righteousness which it is impossible to attain by any works of the law. To entitle us to the character of God's children, and to be interested in the blessing of Abraham, we must have like faith with him. Then shall we be freed from the curse of the law, by the blood of Christ; and being pardoned and accounted righteous, we shall be accepted unto eternal life.

[blocks in formation]

but are adopted in Christ.

And because ye are sons, God hath sent 6 forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba," that is, Father. Wherefore thou 7 art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. At that 8 time however, when ye knew not God, ye served those who by nature are not gods. But 9 now, after ye have known God, or rather have been known by God, how turn ye again to the weak, and beggarly elements, to which ye desire again to be in servitude? Ye observe 10 days, and months, and times, and years. I fear 11 concerning you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain.

CHAP. IV. 1-5. The heir, &c. While a person is under age, he is in subjection, according to the general custom of mankind; and it is only when he has arrived at a full age, that he becomes invested with all his rights. So the church of God, under the law, when its members were but children, was in a state of servitude and subjection to a ritual law, a system of ceremonial observances, the elements of the world. See Gal. ii. 8, 20 Hebr. ix. l. -Fullness of time. The time appointed of the Father.——— Made under the law. To every part of which he was obedient, and even submitted to its

Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for 12 I am as ye were; ye have not wronged me in any thing. in any thing. Ye know that in weakness of 13 the flesh I preached the gospel to you at first. And my trial which was in my flesh ye did 14

2. We learn how much more excellent the gospel is than the law, and that its blessings and privileges extend to all believers. Let us then give up all expectations of life by any law, since even that of Moses could not give it, and look for glory, honour, and immortality, by the gospel, which exhibits Christ to us as the seed promised to Abra hamn, in whom all the promises centre. To him let us look as the mediator of a better covenant than that made with Israel at Sinai. And as the law was given not to disannul the covenant of promise, but to be subservient to it, and to be a guide to bring us to Christ, let us embrace him as our great deliverer, in whom alone we can have righteousness and strength. righteousness and strength. Let us then study the law, and use it lawfully, not as the foundation of hope; but as designed to convince us of our sin, and thus show us our need of the Saviour. And if by faith we put on Christ, then we are no longer under a guide or school-master; but share in the blessings, freedom, and joy of Christ, in whom all distinction of Jew and Gentile, male or female, is done away, and a happy society formed, and united, and animated by one faith, and by one spirit.


To redeem us, &c. From its curse and from its burdensome rites and ceremonies, that we who believe in him might receive the adoption of sons, enjoying the rights of sons come to age.

7. But a son, &c. Having received the Spirit, thou art no longer under the law as a master, but art a son, and even an heir of God through Christ.

8. At that time. In the time of your servitude and sin.—By nature, &c. But only in the imaginations of men, who foolishly attribute divine attributes to them.

9—11. How turn ye again, &c. After having been in servitude to false gods, would you wish to be in servitude to Jewish rites? 1 perceive your inclination, as ye observe the seventh day, new moons, the passover, and other stated feasts, and even the sabbatical year.

12. Am as ye were. I am as concerned for your welfare, and as affectionately disposed towards you, as ye formerly were towards me.— -Not

The two covenants.

not despise, or scorn; but ye received me as an 15 angel of God, or even as Christ Jesus. What then was your happiness? for I bear witness, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given 16 them to me. Am I therefore become your 17 enemy, when I tell you the truth? Some are zealously affected to you, but not well; yea, they would exclude us, that ye may be zea18 lously affected to them. But it is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, of whom I travail in birth again, 20 until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I doubt concerning you.


Tell me, ye that desire to be under the 22 law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by a bond23 woman, and another by a free-woman.


he who was of the bond-woman was born according to the flesh; but he of the free24 woman was by promise: Which things are by me now now allegorized. For these are the


REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER IV. 1. We learn that the ehurch of God, under all the dispensations preceding the gospel, was but in a low state, and in some degree of servitude. Its light was dim, and it was loaded with burdensome rites and ceremonies. Va

wronged me, &c. But yourselves, by submitting to the impositions of your erroneous teachers.

13. In weakness, &c. This he calls his "trial" in the next verse, and "his thorn in the flesh," 2 Cor. xii. 7, where see the note.

15. Your happiness? Having received him as an angel sent from heaven to visit them; or even as Christ Jesus himself, he reminds them of the happiness they then enjoyed, and of their strong and manifest affection to him. 15-19. The truth. State and defend your freedom from the law of Moses. But not well. Their zeal is not so much for your spiritual advantage, as to exclude us from your esteem, that you may espouse their opinions, and become zealous for them. In a good thing. Such as the pure doctrine of the gospel, or towards any good man,— My children. For the punctuation, see Bowyer's Conj. and Griesbach. This language shows the uuabated regard of the apostle, and what he had suffered in labouring among them at first, as well as what he now felt on their account.

20. I desire, &c. I could wish to be present with you, and change my voice, not using the language of a kind mother, but that of authority and command. I doubt whether you have courage to maintain your christian freedom, and to reject the yoke imposed on you.

21. Hear the law? Do ye not attend to what it enjoins, and with what rigour it demands your compliance! Permit me to illustrate the nature of the law and gospel by an apt comparison.

22, 23. Tico sons. Ishmael and Isaac. Gen. xvi. 15.; xxi. 3.—Accordiny to the flesh. Without any diviue promise, or any peculiar interposition of U u 3

[ocr errors]


Privileges of the new] .

two covenants; the one from mount Sinai, which beareth children to servitude, which is Hagar. (For this Hagar is mount Sinai 25 in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is; for she is in servitude with her children.) But the Jerusalem which is from above 26 is the free-woman, who is our mother. For 27 it is written, " Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and shout, thou that travailest not for the desolate hath many more children than she who hath a husband." Now we, 28 brethren, according to the manner of Isaac, are the children of promise. But as then 29 he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what 30 saith the scripture ? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." So then, brethren, we are not children 31 of the bond-woman, but of the free-woman.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

27. Rejoice,&c. See Is. liv. 1. The christian church, comprehending the Gentiles, will have a more numerous offspring than the Jewish church ever had.

28, 29. Now we, &c. Made children of God by faith in Christ, agreeably to his promise to Abraham, that in his seed should all the families of the earth be blessed.—Persecuted. See Gen. xxi. 9. Derided, insulted him; so now the Jews deride and persecute us.To the Spirit. See v. 23.

30. Cast out the, &c. This intimates in a delicate but forcible manner, that the unbelieving Jews would be rejected. The mode of applying the scripture histories which Paul has adopted from verses 21-31, was usual with the Jewish teachers; and it must have awakened in their minds many reflections. 31. Of the bond-woman. Since we are children of promise, verse 28, 339

« PreviousContinue »