Paul’s Personal Rebuke Gal. 4:12-20 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In the first part of this chapter, Paul gave the Galatians a good reason why they should not now be under the law. The reason is based on the rationale that a grown child does not subject himself to his childhood rules. In the middle part of the chapter, Paul uses his relationship with the Galatians to reprove them for allowing someone else to come behind his work and put them under the bondage of the law.
He reminds them to consider:
His point of view – Gal 4:12 – so, he tells them, “be as I am; for I am as ye are,” in other words, “put yourself in my shoes” – Paul had put a lot of effort into teaching them and they had turned away from him – Paul was not offended by their rejection of him when they followed the doctrine of those who subverted them by the law – so they shouldn’t be offended by his reproof.
His sacrifice for them – Gal 4:13 – his sacrifice for them was like the sacrifice of Epaphroditus for the Philippians [Phil 2:25-30] – he did not put his own care above the care of the church [2 Cor 11:24-30] but ministered to them in spite of his infirmities.
Their grace toward him – Gal 4:14 – they were so taken by his preaching that they received him as if it had been an angel of God, or even Christ himself, who had come to preach to them [Matt 10:40] and they didn’t mind that he had something wrong with him [compare Jesus in Is 53:2].
Their blessing to him – Gal 4:15 – they had received him and were so desirous to help him that they would have given him their eyes – this is evidently his “thorn in the flesh” [2 Cor 12:7] – he temporarily lost his eyesight when he got saved [Acts 9:8, 18] – he didn’t write his own letters though he wrote this one and called it a large letter [not large at all considering 1 & 2 Corinthians], probably because the print was so big [Gal 6:11] – and he needed eyes – why else were they were willing to give him theirs?
Their change of attitude toward him – Gal 4:16 – they were now willing to write him off because he was telling them the truth – that’s the way some folks treat those who tell the truth [Jn 8:40; 1 Ki 22:8].
Their zeal to follow – Gal 4:17-18 – you’re so zealous to follow the one who is teaching you that you haven’t stopped to consider why they are affecting you the way they do – their motive is selfish; they only want to claim you as their disciples to make themselves look good – but what they are doing to you is not good [Matt 23:15; Acts 21:20] – nevertheless, it is good to be zealous for good things no matter whether you hear them from me or from someone else [in other words, I am not envious that you are learning from someone else; I’m reproving you because you are learning the wrong thing].
His care for their discipleship – Gal 4:19 – Paul considers these Galatians his children in the Lord [1 Cor 4:15] and he describes the work it took to bring them to Christ as “travail in birth” [similar to what a woman goes though when she has a baby] – and he says I am willing to do it again until Christ is formed in you, i.e., until you get saved if you are not or until you are conformed to him [Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18] if you are.
His doubt toward them – Gal 4:20 – he was basically saying, “The way you are acting I am not even sure you are saved – I need to come there and see for myself.”
Conclusion: This rebuke was intended to cause them to reflect on how they even came to know Christ in the first place and to remember the great care that Paul had given them to bring them to Jesus – this should have caused them to realize that these other guys who were trying to put them under the law had no such relationship with them as Paul had – by receiving this rebuke, they should have realized that they were wrong for following a man zealous for the law and should have returned rather to Paul and their zeal for the liberty in the gospel (2 Cor 3:17).