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Galatians 4b – The Little Things

In this week’s sermon, I did not end up cutting anything major from the discussion.  Most of what I originally intended to say from my study ended up in the sermon (a rare occasion!).  However, there were a few small morsels that I trimmed back.  Here are some examples (all Scripture in ESV):

1) Galatians 4:12b – “You did me no wrong”

            Did Paul mean this sarcastically or was he speaking in a straightforward way?  Longenecker, in his Galatians commentary in the WBC series (pg. 190), points to three possible ways to take this phrase: 1) You didn’t wrong me when I was with you, but you are wronging me now; 2) You didn’t wrong me, but you wronged God; 3) You didn’t wrong me, but you have wronged yourself.  Longenecker (and I too) leans towards the first of those options.

2) Galatians 4:15 – “if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me”

            I discussed four major possibilities regarding how to understand Paul’s “weakness of flesh” that caused him to preach in Galatia: 1) physical effects of his persecution; 2) epilepsy; 3) malaria; 4) eye problems.  I settled on the fourth as the most probable of the options.  However, John MacArthur, in his commentary on Galatians (pg. 117), notes that malaria can sometimes impact that optic nerve.  Could #3 and #4 be connected?  We’ll have to ask Paul in Heaven!

3) Galatians 4:20 – “I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone”                   The Greek literally reads, “change my sound/voice.”  Because of this, some commentators suggest that Paul isn’t talking about going and being with the Galatians in person, but perhaps he wished to speak in “tongues” to the Galatians!  I find this a bit of a stretch, as Paul is contrasting his presence and absence.  “Tone” fits the context much better.


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