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15 For in Christ Jesus, 15 I boast in the cross of Christ, neither circumcision avai!- as the only foundation of my hope eth any thing, nor uncir- of salvation, and as the great princumcision; but a new crea- ciple of my sanctification ; Because, ture.' (See chap. v. 6. under the gospel, neither circumcision, note 2.)
nor uncircumcision is of any avail towards our acceptance with God, but
the being a nerv creature. 16 Now as many as shall 16 Now as many of the believing walk by this rule, (revors. Gentiles as walk by this rule, seeking Philip. ii. 14. note 1.) acceptance with God, not by cir. peace BE
on them,' and cumcision, but by becoming new mercy, and on the Israel creatures, may peace be their portion of God.
in this life, and pardon at the day of judgment. The same blessing I
wish on the believing Jews. 17 Henceforth let no one 17 Henceforth, let no one give me give me trouble : for I bear trouble, by calling my commission, the marks 1 of the Lord my doctrine, or my faithfulness in Jesus in my body.
question: For I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus's servant in my body.
Ver. 15.-1. A new creature. The phrases new creature, new man, Col. iii. 10. and the putting on of Christ, Gal. iii. 27. (See Ephesians iv. 24. note,) are often used by the apostle, to denote an entire change of principles, disposi. tions, and actions. See 2 Cor. v. 17. notes 1, 2.
Ver. 16.–1. Peace be on them : or peace sball be on them. In this manner of translating the clause, it is a prediction or promise of happiness, rather than a benediction. For the meaning of peace, see Rom. i. 7. note 4.
2. Israel of God. Not the beliêving Jews only, but the believing Gentiles, are called the Israel of God, because they are the spiritual seed of Abraham, and the only children of God to whom the promises in their secondary and highest meaning belong. But here, the Israel of God, being distinguished · from the believing Gentiles, are plainly the Jewish believers.
Ver. 17.-1. I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body. Because the word siyueceta denotes marks made by burning, it is generally supposed that the apostle had in his eye, those servants in the heathen temples, on whose foreheads the name of the god to whom they belonged was burned. After which, it was believed they were under the immediate protection of the god. Hence the beast, Rev. xiii. 1. had upon its head the name of Blas. phemy: and the worshippers of the beast, ver. 16. bad a mark on their right hand, or on their forebeads, whereby they were known to be its worshippers, In like manner, the servants of God have his name on their foreheads, Rev. xxii. 4.—The apostle, in allusion to these customs, calls the scars of the VOL. III.
18 Brethren, the grace 18 Η χαρις του Κυριου of our Lord Jesus Christ ημων Ιησου Χριςου μετα του be with your Spirit. Amen.
υμων, αδελφοι. Αμην. .
wounds which he received when stoned, and left as dead on the street of Lystra, the marks of the Lord Jesus. Farther, as he was five times scourged by the Jews, and thrice beaten with rods by the Romans, 2 Cor. xi. 24, 25. he may have suffered some of these punishments before this epistle was written. And if the wounds which he then received left scars in his body, he might call them likewise, the marks by wbich he was distinguished as the servant of the Lord Jesus.—Chandler conjectures, that by forbidding any one to give him trouble, seeing he bare the marks of the Lord Jesus in his body, the apostle threatened to punish the Judaizing teachers with the rod : : as if he had said, at his peril, let any man from henceforth give me trouble, by calling my apostleship in question. Perhaps he meant likewise to insinuate, that the marks of the Lord Jesus in his body, were much bet. ter proofs of his being Christ's servant, than the mark of circumcision, of which the false teachers boasted, was a proof of their being God's servants.
Ver. 18.-1. Brethren. The attentive reader must have taken notice of the severity with which the apostle treated the Galatians. His rebukes were sharp, (chap. i. 6. iv. 11. v. 15.) and the language, in which he gave them, cutting. For he twice called them senseless Galatians. Nevertheless, having sexpressed his persuasion, that after reading what he had written, they would not think differently from him, in the great articles of the Chris. tian doctrine, ch. v. 10. he shewed his love to them, not only by giving them his apostolical benediction, but by calling them brethren ; and by making that appellation the last word of his letter but one.
CONCLUSION As it was the general belief of the Jewish nation, that salvation could only be obtained by obedience to the law of Moses, it is natural to suppose, that many of the Jews who embraced the gospel, would teach the Gentiles, that unless they were circumcised they could not be saved : And, on the other hand, that such of them as knew the truth of the gospel, would oppose that false doctrine with a zeal equal to the magnitude of its pernicious consequences.
The truth is, this controversy actually took place very early in the church, and occasioned such keen disputation and dissention among the brethren, that it became necessary to apply to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem to have it determined. Accordingly, after deliberating on the matter with the chief brethren of the church of Jerusa18 The grace of our 18 May the love of our Lord Jesus Lord Jesus Christ BE Christ be always felt in your mind with your spirit, brethren. brethren. Amen. See Ephes. vi. 24. Amen.
lem, they unanimously decreed, that circumcision was by nu means necessary to the salvation of the Gentiles; and sent copies of their decree to the churches in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia, by the hands of Barnabas and Paul. But the latter, who knew the extreme attachment of the Jews to the law, foreseeing, that notwithstanding the decision of the apostles and elders, some of the more zealous Jewish believers in every church, would urge the Gentiles to receive the law as necessary to their salvation; and knowing, that by the prevalence of that doctrine, the gospel would be overturned, he judged it proper, that the brethren of the Gentiles should be secured from being drawn into an error so pernicious. He therefore wrote immediately to the churches of Galatia, where, as he was informed, some had already gone over to Judaism, the letter in the Canon which bears their name, in which he proved by the strongest reasoning, that circumcision was not necessary to the salvation of either Jews or Gentiles, but faith working by love. The same doctrine he inculcated in most of his other epistles; and by his zeal for the truth of the gospel, and earnest endeavours to maintain it, he, at length, banished Judaism out of the Christian church. The epistle to the Galatians, therefore, in which this matter was debated and settled, being, as Chandler observes, perfectly suited to the state of the Christian church in its most early period, carrieth in the very nature of the question of which it treats, a strong internal evidence of its antiquity and authenticity. For it is not to be supposed, that any person in the second or third age of Christianity, would be at the trouble to write such an elaborate letter, for the purpose of determining a controversy, which, it is well known, had no existence in the church after the apostle's days.
OF ST. PAUL'S
EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS.
Of the Introduction of the Christian Religion at Ephesus. St. Paul's first coming to Corinth happened in the year 51, as was formerly shewed, Pref. to 1 Cor. sect. 1. On that occa. sion he abode among the Corinthians somewhat more than eighteen months, Acts xviii. 11. 18. then departed by sea for Judea. In his voyage, touching at Ephesus, a city famed for its commerce and riches, and for its being the metropolis of the province of Asia, he preached in the synagogue there with some prospect of success. But hastening to go to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Pentecost, he left Ephesus soon, Acts xviii. 19, 20, 21. His first visit, therefore, to the Ephesians, was in the year 53. From the history of the Acts, it appears, that the Ephesians were a very dissolute people, and extremely addicted to magic; walking, as the apostle expresseth it, chap. ii. 2. according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience.—Their city, also, was the very throne of idolatry; the worship of idols being performed in ng part of the heathen world with greater splendour than at Ephesus, on account of the famous temple of Diana, which was built between the city and the harbour, at the expense of all Asia; and in which was an image of that goddess, said to have fallen down from Jupiter, Acts xix. 35. This image, as we may well suppose, was worshipped with the most pompouş rites, by a multitude of priests, and a vast concourse of votaries from every quarter, who, to gain the favour of Diana, came to Ephe. sus to offer sacrifice at her shrine.