Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
August 26, 2012
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am
; for I am
as ye are
: ye have not injured me at all.
13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even
as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been
possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously affect you, but
not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
18 But it is
good to be zealously affected always in a
, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
1901 ASV Translation
12 I beseech you, brethren, become as I am
, for I also am become
as ye are
. Ye did me no wrong:
13 but ye know that because of an infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you the first time:
14 and that which was a temptation to you in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but ye received me as an angel of God, even
as Christ Jesus.
15 Where then is that gratulation of yourselves? for I bear you witness, that, if possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.
16 So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?
17 They zealously seek you in no good way; nay, they desire to shut you out, that ye may seek them.
18 But it is good to be zealously sought in a good matter at all times, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you
20 but I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I am perplexed about you.
- I. Paul's Seriously Sought Request of the Galatians.
- A. The verb used (translated "beseech") is typically used in high pressure situations and signals a significant interest in getting another to respond to a specific issue in a specifically described manner.
- B. The translators' dilemma.
- 1. The primary request has no clarifying verbs: become as I because I as you.
- 2. The translators opt for the supply of the present tense: become as I am because I am as you are.
- 3. The problems.
- a. On the face of it, such a translation makes no sense. If Paul is as they are there is no need for them to become as he is.
- b. Also on the face of it, it is clear that Paul has a former sense of them in mind (become as I am because I am as you used to be) because he used the past tense verb, "you did not do hurtful things to me", and he clearly illustrated his meaning in the immediately following verses (13-15) by recalling how they used to act when he was with them.
- c. Thus, Paul is eagerly seeking their "return" to their former attitude toward him.
- 1) In this light it is good to remember that he is also seeking their "return" to their former attitude toward God. In other words, their current attitude toward God has also affected their attitude toward Paul. This is always a bottom line reality: people take up "attitudes" toward people on the basis of their "attitude" toward God. As soon as a person's attitude toward God shifts, the attitude he/she has toward people also shifts.
- 2) The primary issue: "...you hurt me in nothing." This is not currently true, but it was true earlier in their experience.
- II. The Galatians' Former Behavior/Attitude.
- A. They "know" that "I preached the Gospel to you at the first because of a weakness of the flesh".
- 1. What they know is that Paul was driven by his "weakness" to tell them of the crucified Christ.
- 2. This clearly indicates that Paul's commitment to their eternal welfare overrode whatever the cost to himself in whatever terms the "weakness of the flesh" dealt him. This could be a relatively minor inconvenience, but that would seriously undercut his appeal to these facts if he seriously intends to try to get them to "become as I" in their regard. He could not use a minor issue to spark an interest in a major attitude change on their part. This signals a consideration of his "weakness of the flesh" as a rather major "obstacle" to his preaching. Whatever we conclude his "problem" might have been, it is almost certainly "painful" in some area of his life.
- a. He goes further and says that this "problem" was a "trial of them in his flesh".
- b. He says of them that they "did not despise nor spurn". This indicates that the issue was more of an issue for them than for him. In other words, his "weakness" set him up for spiritual abuse and they did not engage in it.
- c. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 and context Paul gave some indicators of his "weakness". His "conclusion" was that his real problem was "self-exaltation" and the solution of God was to put in place an on-going "humiliating reality" so that he would depend upon God and not himself. This context is full of references to the temptation to pride and it clearly appealed to Paul's "old man" reality because that was the bottom line of his entire former life. This also reveals the similarity between Paul's "condition" and its possible impact upon his hearers while he preaches and the Galatians' turn to legalism: both have "pride" at the root, indicating that Paul considered the temptation to pride as both the issue and a profound problem that has eternal ramifications.
- B. The Galatians former attitude was one of an open-hearted willingness to be humbled and blessed.
- 1. What Paul is actually asking them to do is not complicated: he wants them to stop the self-righteous posturing and return to the blessedness of humility before the Grace of God.
- 2. "Become as I" boils down to a request that they turn again to grace. "...Because I as you..." boils down to a claim that Paul has the same open-hearted willingness to walk in humility that they originally demonstrated.