Lesson 8
Galatians 4:12-20

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(Vs. 12) Become as Paul, free from the bondage of ritualism and ceremonies. Reckon yourselves to be dead to the Levitical laws which have been fulfilled by Christ. Count these things as loss and rubbish for Christ.

"I have become as you are (Gentiles) with respect to things spiritual. We are both alike inchrist—chosen in Him, redeemed in Him, perfected in Him, and free from the observance of ceremonies and laws. You have not injured me by your law observances. The offense is against Christ Who fulfilled the law. My feelings for you have not changed, but your feelings toward me have " (Gal. 1: 6).

(Vs. 13-16) "When I first preached the gospel of God's grace to you, I did so in much weakness, humility, persecution, and bodily afflictions, You were not of f ended by my bodily ailments nor my sufferings (what they were we do not know) ; but you were so glad to hear the good news of Christ that you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Himself. What has become of that respect and regard you had for me? You would have given me your very eyes" (this is what led many to believe that the apostle had severe eye trouble). What Paul is saying is that these people were happy in Christ (in the gospel of free grace); and now that the law-preachers had influenced them, they had not only turned from the gospel of Christ alone but had become Paul's enemies. Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth and deal sincerely with you? Am I your enemy because I preach that we are complete in Christ and have no need to be circumcised, to keep days, months, and years?

(Vs. 17) "These false preachers are courting you, pretending great love and concern for you, making much of you; but their purpose is not for God's glory nor your eternal good. What they are trying to do is to exclude me or to isolate you from me and other true apostles that you might follow them and bring them great favor and success" (II Peter 2:1-3). The zeal and enthusiasm of the false preachers was not to turn the Galatians to Christ but to win popular applause unto themselves.

(Vs. 18) Paul does not condemn all zeal and affection, but only that which has an ulterior motive and objective. It is good to be zealous and extremely dedicated if our zeal is toward Christ and the gospel. The Godly zeal and affection for the gospel and one another was to be constant, continuous, and NOT ONLY when he was present with them. He loved them and desired their salvation, sanctification, and peace in Christ, not only when he was there but when he was away. It seemed that when he was there, they were attached to him and the truth; but when he left, their affection cooled and they turned to others.

"Content with beholding His face, my all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place would make any change in my mind."

(Vs. 19) "My little children." Paul speaks to the Galatians most affectionately as a father to his sons. They were sons of God and were still babes in Christ; consequently, the term "little children" was appropriate; but they were also "Paul's children," for he was the instrument God used to bring them to faith in Christ.

"Of whom I travail in birth again." He compares himself to a woman with child. All of his pains, sufferings, and labors in the ministry of the gospel he compares to the sorrows of a woman during the time of child-bearing. The woman is concerned, dedicated, and involved in one purpose; and that is to bring forth a living child. She counts her suffering and pains worthwhile if she can produce a living, healthy child. The apostle had not thought for himself but for them. All that he was concerned about and dedicated to in prayer, preaching, and suffering was that Christ might be formed in them.

"Until Christ be formed in you. " This is the same as to be saved, to be a new creature in Christ Jesus!

"Eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ Whom He hath sent," to have the LIFE of Christ, the PRESENCE of Christ, the SPIRIT AND MIND of Christ, and the VERY GLORY of Christ begotten, created, and formed in us (Gal. 2:20). Until this is done and unless this miracle of grace is accomplished, our religion is vain. It is no more than the Pharisees of old and of whom Christ said, "They neither know Me nor my Father." Salvation is CHRIST IN YOU; the hope of glory is CHRIST IN YOU; the life of God is CHRIST IN YOU (I John 5:11-12).

(Vs. 20) "I wish I could be present with you in person that I might exhort you face to face. Your concern about circumcision, holy days, and ceremonies makes me fearful of your knowledge of Christ and causes me to doubt your real interest in Christ." A union with Christ produces fruit and evidences; and when these fruits and evidences are absent, true ministers of the gospel are concerned for the spiritual well-being of their hearers. When the LORDSHIP and SUFFICIENCY of Christ wane in a person, there is ample reason to question his profession.

Henry Mahan, Pastor
Thirteenth Sreeet Baptist Church
Ashland, Ky.