by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 August 12, 2012 Dayton, Texas
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain.
I. The Current (Assumed) State: You Know God/Are Known by God.
A. Called an "assumed" state because Paul is not convinced that it actually describes them: 4:11 and 4:19.
B. The behavior of the Galatians is nigh unto a curse (1:8-9) and smacks of a deceitful claim to faith that cannot stand the test of reality (1 John 2:19) [Jesus clearly taught a "temporary" faith in Luke 8:13].
C. Paul"s use of "know"/"known" is a deliberate shift from the concept of "knowing" used in vs. 8 in the description of the former state and a new concept of "knowing" in vs. 9.
1. The "knowing" in vs. 8 is "facts-interpretation-conclusions-drawn" knowledge with the understanding that "facts" improperly interpreted lead to false conclusions and, thus, ignorance.
2. The "knowing" in vs. 9 is the same kind of "knowing" that Jesus said He would use to decide who gets into the Kingdom (Matthew 7:23). When He claimed that "I never knew you", He was not saying He did not have the "facts", the proper "interpretation", or a legitimate "conclusion". In that sense of "knowing", God thoroughly "knows" everyone down to the "thoughts and intents of the heart" and cannot possibly say, "I never knew you". Rather, by the use of a different term for "knowing", Jesus is claiming that He "never had a relational knowledge" of certain ones because they refused to enter into the relationship that is necessary to "relational knowledge".
3. That Paul says in our current text, "But now, having known God, or, rather, having been known by God..." means that he is accepting the claim made by the Galatians during his preaching tour among them of having entered into a "believing relationship with God through Christ". Since faith in Christ crucified is the threshold of entrance into Eternal Life, Paul says that the Galatians "have known" God.
4. More importantly, however, is the fact that God "has known" them. In other words, it is a secondary reality that men enter into a relationship with God; the primary reality is that God enters into a relationship with men. There are certain things that happen to men when they come to "know" God, but there are other, far more crucial, things that happen to men when God "knows" them. Men are so much less than God that what they do is pretty much reduced to almost nothing, whereas what God does is off the charts in terms of significant impact. So what is the chief result of God's "knowledge" of a person? According to 4:15, it is a "sense of blessedness that leads to an incredibly high level of enthusiasm for Truth and its messengers".
II. The Incomprehensible Desire: You Wish to be Re-enslaved a Second Time.
A. The verb translated "turn ye" is an intensified verb with the added prefix "epi" attached and that is intensified yet again by the repetition of that "epi" in the prepositional phrase "to the weak and beggarly elements". In other words, Paul is projecting his astonishment: the Galatians are like the dog who returns to his own vomit. The stuff was so sickening that it forced a vomiting reflex to kick into gear, but the dog turns right around, as soon as it "feels better" and re-ingests it. Astonishing.
B. At issue is the object of the Galatian"s confidence: weak and beggarly elements. In our study of Galatians 4:1-7, Paragraph # 1, Study # 3 on June 24, 2012(183), I wrote: "... throughout this context, the 'bondage' is tied directly to the issue of 'law' ... this strongly implies that the 'elements of the world' are simply 'dictates of the gods' that promise 'joy' but actually give 'pain, fear, and/or denigration' ... at the root, then, is this claim: this 'joy' is the gift of 'the gods' and it is given to those who please them according to their dictates ... in other words, a chief characteristic of the 'gods' is the centrality of the 'god' in the objectives of the 'slave': please me or die." This conclusion is reinforced by Paul's next statement "Ye observe days and months and times and years" (4:10). This is simply a reference to "the dictates of the gods" wherein are "rules" that govern certain times in the lives of those enslaved to them.
C. The sad reality is that slavish adherence to these "rules" initially induced a violent sickness, and any return will bring back the same violent reaction. When a human being turns to a "god" that cannot exercise "power", the ultimate pain is inevitable.