Notes & Commentary:
By the child, in this place, the apostle understands all the Jewish people, who, as long as they were under the childhood
of the law, were subject to numerous restrictions, although they were the favorite children of God. But when the fulness of
time came, they received the adoption of children, and were in possession of the liberty of the law of grace. They were no
longer obliged to observe the legal rites. Whence the apostle wishes the conclusion to be drawn, that if persons once subject
to the law were now exempt from it, how much more will those be excused from its yoke, who were never under its control. (Calmet)
the elements of the world. St. Chrysostom understands the exterior ceremonies and precepts of the law of Moses, with an
allusion to the first elements or rudiments which children are taught. (Witham)
Ver. 4. The
fulness of the time. That is, the time decreed by Divine Providence. --- God sent his Son made of a woman, who
took a true human body of his virgin Mother. --- Under the law, as he was man, because he was pleased to make himself
Ver. 6. Crying,
Abba. That is, Father; Christ taught us in prayer to call God our Father, he having made us his adoptive
sons by his grace, and heirs of heaven. (Witham)
Ver. 8-9. You
served them, who by nature are no gods. These words are to be understood of the converts, who had been Gentiles. --- Known
of God. That is, approved and loved by him. (Witham) --- The language of the apostle in this verse is not perhaps strictly
precise. The Galatians, whom he addresses, had been converted from paganism, and of course were never subject to the law of
Moses. But the apostle, by these words, entreats them not to begin now to serve these weak and useless elements, (as he calls
the Jewish rites) or by this expression he may mean (as St. Chrysostom and Theophylactus explain it) the tyranny of error
and wickedness. (Calmet)
You observe  days, &c. These false teachers were for obliging all Christians to observe all the Jewish
feasts, fasts, ceremonies, &c. Some of the later reformers find here an occasion to blame the fasts and holydays kept
by Catholics. St. Jerome, in his commentary on these words, tells us that some had made the like objection in his time: his
answer might reasonably stop their rashness; to wit, that Christians keep indeed the sabbath on the Sunday, (not the Jewish
sabbath on Saturdays) that they keep also divers holydays, and days on which great saints suffered martyrdom, (let our adversaries
take notice of this) but that both the days are different, and the motives of keeping them. See St. Jerome, tom. iv. p. 271.
(Witham) --- This text cannot mean to condemn the feasts appointed to be kept holy in the Catholic Church. For on the festivals
dedicated to our Lord, St. Augustine writeth thus: "We dedicate and consecrate the memory of God's benefits with solemnities
on solemn appointed days, lest in process of time they might creep into ungrateful and unkind oblivion." And of the martyrs
thus: "Christian people celebrate the memories of martyrs with religious solemnity, both to move themselves to an imitation
of their virtues, and that they may be partakers of their merits, and helped by their prayers." (Conta Faust. lib. xx. chap.
21.) And of other saints thus: "keep ye and celebrate with sobriety the nativity of saints, that we may imitate them that
are gone before us, and that they may rejoice in us, who pray for us." (In Ps. lxxxviii. Conc. 2. in fine.)
Ver. 12. Be
ye as I, for I also am as you. I add no word in the translation, because it is uncertain what is to be understood: some
give this construction, be you as I am, because I also was, as you now are; and they expound them thus:
lay aside your zeal for the Jewish ceremonies as I have done, who was once as zealous for them as you seem now to be.
Others would have the construction and sense to be: be you as I am, because I am as you; that is, be affected
to me, and love me, as I have still a true affection and love for you, which is agreeable to what follows, you have not
offended me at all. (Witham)
Through infirmity of the flesh....and your temptation in my flesh. St. Jerome thinks the apostle had some bodily infirmity
upon him. St. Chrysostom understands his poverty, and want, and persecutions, and that some were inclined to contemn him and
his preaching on these accounts. Yet others among them did not esteem him less: they received him, respected him as an Angel
of God, as Christ Jesus; they would have given him their eyes, as one may say, and all that was dear to
them. He puts them in mind how happy then they thought themselves, and asketh why they are now so much changed?
He tells them this change comes from the false teachers among them, who with a false zeal would exclude them
from a friendship and a submission to St. Paul, and deprive them again of that Christian liberty by which Christ, and the
faith of Christ, had freed them from the yoke of the Mosaical law. On this account I must labor and travail, as it
were to bring you forth a second time. How do I now wish to be with you, to change my voice, to
exhort you, to reprehend you, to use all ways and means to regain you to Christ? --- I am in confusion about you,
I am perplexed, as the Greek signifies, as not knowing what to say or do. (Witham)
Ver. 22. It
is written in the law, that is, in Genesis, (chap. xvi. and chap. xxi.) that Abraham had two sons, &c. that
his two sons, Ismael, born of his servant, Agar, and Isaac of his wife, Sara, in an allegorical
sense, represent the two testaments or covenants, which God made with his people: that by Ismael was represented
that covenant of the former law delivered to Moses on Mount Sina, by which the Jews were made his elect people, yet as it
were his servants, to be kept to their duty by fear of punishments; but by Isaac is represented the new covenant
or testament of Christ, given at Jerusalem, where he suffered, where the new law was first published; by which law,
they who believe in Christ were made the spiritual children of Abraham, the sons of God, and heirs of the blessings
promised to Abraham: that Sina, the mountain in Arabia, hath an affinity with Jerusalem, and with
her children, who remain under the servitude of the law of Moses: we cannot understand a conjunction, or
an affinity, as to place and situation, Sina and Jerusalem being near twenty days' journey distant from each other;
therefore it can only be an affinity in a mystical signification, inasmuch as Jerusalem was the capital of the Jews, where
the children of those who received the law on Mount Sina lived still under the servitude of the same law: but Christians,
who believe in Christ, must look upon themselves as belonging to Jerusalem, and not to the city of Jerusalem upon earth, but
to the celestial Jerusalem in heaven, which is our mother, now no longer servants and slaves to the former law, but
free, being made the sons of God by the grace of Christ, and heirs of heaven. And these blessings were promised
to all nations, not only to the Jews, of which the much greater part remained obstinate, and refused to believe in Christ,
but also particularly to the Gentiles, according to the prophecy of Isaias, (chap. liv.) rejoice thou that hast been
barren, like Sara, for a long time; i.e. rejoice, you Gentiles, hitherto left in idolatry, without the knowledge
or worship of the true God, now you shall have more children among you than among the Jews, who were his chosen people. (Witham)
Ver. 29. St.
Paul makes another observation upon this example of Ismael and Isaac: that as Ismael was troublesome to Isaac, for which he
and his mother were turned out of the family, so also now the Jews insulted and persecuted the Christians, who had
been Gentiles; but God will protect them as heirs of the blessings promised: they shall be accounted the spiritual children
of Abraham, while the Jews, with their carnal ceremonies, shall be cast off. (Witham) --- This, says St. Augustine, is a figure
of heretics, (who are the children of the bond-woman) unjustly persecuting the Catholic Church. (Ep. 48.)
 Ver. 10. St. Jerome on this verse, p. 271, dicat aliquis, nos simile
crimen inurrimus....observantes diem dominicam....Pascha festivitatem, & Pentecostes Štitiam, & pro varietate
regionum, diversa in honore martyrum tempora constiuta, &c.
 Ver. 20. Confundor in vobis, aporoumai. See 2 Corinthians
iv. 8. &c.
 Ver. 25. Qui conjunctus est ei, quŠ nunc est Jerusalem, sustoichei
te nun Ierousalem. See BudŠus, Estius, Mr. Legh, &c.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Christ hath freed us from the servitude of the law: we
are the free-born sons of Abraham.
1 Now I say, As long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from
a servant, though he be lord of all:
2 But is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed by the
3 So we also, when we were children, were in bondage, under the elements
of the world.
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of
a woman, made under the law:
5 That he might redeem those who were under the law: that we might receive
the adoption of sons.
6 And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into
your hearts, crying: Abba, Father.
7 Therefore, now he is no more a servant, but a son. And if a son, an
heir also through God.
8 But then, indeed, not knowing God, you served them, who, by nature,
are no gods.
9 But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God;
how turn you again to the weak and needy elements, which you desire to serve again?
10 You observe days and months, and times, and years.
11 I am in fear for you, lest, perhaps, I have laboured in vain among
12 Be ye as I, for I also am as you: brethren, I beseech you; you have
not injured me at all.
13 And you know how, through infirmity of the flesh, I preached the gospel
to you heretofore: and your temptation in my flesh
14 You despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an Angel of God, as
15 Where is then your blessedness? For I bear you witness, that, if it
could be done, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and would have given them to me.
16 Am I then become your enemy in telling you the truth?
17 They are zealous in your regard not well: but they would exclude you,
that you might be zealous for them.
18 But be zealous for that which is good in a good thing always; and
not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed
20 And I would willingly be present with you now, and change my voice:
because I am ashamed for you.
21 Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, have you not read the
22 For it is written, *that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman,
**and the other by a free-woman.
23 But he that was by the bond-woman, was born according to the flesh;
but he by the free-woman, according to the promise.
24 Which things are said by an allegory. For these are the two testaments.
The one indeed on Mount Sina, bringing forth unto bondage, which is Agar.
25 For Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath an affinity with that
Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But that Jerusalem, which is above, is free; which is our mother.
27 For it is written: *Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break
forth and cry out, thou that travailest not; for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.
28 *Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.
29 But as then he, who was born according to the flesh, persecuted him
who was according to the spirit: so also now.
30 But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son;
for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman.
31 Therefore, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman, but
of the free; by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.
22: Genesis xvi. 15. --- ** Genesis xxi. 2.
27: Isaias liv. 1.
28: Romans ix. 8.