Thursday, 28 April 2016
They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them. Galatians 4:17
Paul has been speaking on the same subject throughout the entire epistle. A group of self-serving miscreants that we today call “Judaizers” had come in and perverted the pure gospel which Paul had presented to the Galatians. They had joyfully accepted Paul’s words and were adopted into the family of God, having received His Spirit in the process. Now things had changed.
This group of self-serving people had arrived on the scene and affected the minds of the Galatians to the point where they were now inserting precepts of the law into their lives instead of relying on the grace that had saved them in the first place. And so Paul, referring once again to these false teachers says, “They zealously court you.” The word is zéloó and it is rightly translated as “zealously.” There was fervency in their efforts of courting the Galatians. However, their zeal was “for no good.”
Instead, their goal was that “they want to exclude you.” In order to bring them into bondage to their false teaching, they worked to draw them away from the true gospel. Thus, they would be excluded from fellowship with true believers, excluded from further proper doctrine and training by Paul and the other apostles, and excluded from rewards for faithful adherence to Christ. Only harm could result from this infection which was brought in by these false teachers.
Instead of building them up and making them zealous for the gospel, for right doctrine, and for the grace of Christ, they courted them that they “may be zealous for them.” Paul uses the same word, zéloó, in order to show the misguided nature of what had occurred. The false teachers had selfish motivations, just like any cult does. The intent was to get hearts and minds off of Christ and the gospel and towards their own twisted and perverted selves.
It is unfortunate that some translations use two different words to translate the one word zéloó. In doing so, they miss the contrasting stress of Paul’s words of this verse. One such example is from the KJV –
“They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.”
As you can see, the full force of Paul’s intent is diminished through such an unhappy translation.
Life application: It doesn’t take long to recognize an aberrant cult if looked at from objective eyes. They have several common traits such as claiming exclusive knowledge of the truth. They twist and manipulate Scripture for their own agenda. They deride those who would dare question their authority, etc. Unfortunately, when people lack sound doctrine, they wind up in cults because they had no firm footing on which to stand. Paul’s letter is intended to correct the faulty thinking of the Galatians. We now have it as a part of the full counsel of God. Be sure to read the Bible, study it, and apply its precepts properly to your life.
It truly is wonderful to share in Your goodness from day to day, O God. Even when times bring nothing but frustration, You are still there to talk to and to open our hearts to. Countless souls have gone before us, and many of them have had very difficult lives. Some have even been martyred for their faith, but You were there with them. And we know You are here with us as well. Thank You for the assurance we have because of our faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.