on Galatians 1 :4
Who gave himself for our sins - Who became a sin-offering to God in behalf of mankind, that they might be saved from their sins.
Deliver us from this present evil world - These words cannot mean created nature, or the earth and its productions, nor even wicked men. The former we shall need while we live, the latter we cannot avoid; indeed they are those who, when converted, form the Church of God; and, by the successive conversion of sinners is the Church of Christ maintained; and the followers of God must live and labor among them, in order to their conversion. The apostle, therefore, must mean the Jews, and their system of carnal ordinances; statutes which were not good, and judgments by which they could not live; Ezekiel 20:25; and the whole of their ecclesiastical economy, which was a burden neither they nor their fathers were able to bear, Acts 15:10. Schoettgen contends that the word πονηρος, which we translate evil, should be translated laborious or oppressive, as it comes from πονος, labor, trouble, etc. The apostle takes occasion, in the very commencement of the epistle, to inform the Galatians that it was according to the will and counsel of God that circumcision should cease, and all the other ritual parts of the Mosaic economy; and that it was for this express purpose that Jesus Christ gave himself a sacrifice for our sins, because the law could not make the comers thereunto perfect. It had pointed out the sinfulness of sin, in its various ordinances, washings, etc.; and it had showed forth the guilt of sin in its numerous sacrifices; but the common sense, even of its own votaries, told them that it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin. A higher atonement was necessary; and when God provided that, all its shadows and representations necessarily ceased. See the note on Galatians 4:3.
on Galatians 1 :4
Who gave himself for our sins - The reason why Paul so soon introduces this important doctrine, and makes it here so prominent, probably is, that this was the cardinal doctrine of the Christian religion, the great truth which was ever to be kept before the mind, and because this truth had been in fact lost sight of by them. They had embraced doctrines which tended to obscure it, or to make it void. They had been led into error by the Judaizing teachers, who held that it was necessary to be circumcised, and to conform to the whole Jewish ritual. Yet the tendency of all this was to obscure the doctrines of the gospel, and particularly the great truth that people can be justified only by faith in the blood of Jesus; Galatians 5:4; compare Galatians 1:6-7. Paul, therefore, wished to make this prominent - the very "starting point" in their religion; a truth never to be forgotten, that Christ gave himself for their sins, that he might deliver them from all the bad influences of this world, and from all the false systems of religion engendered in this world. The expression "who gave" (τοῦ δόντος tou dontos is one that often occurs in relation to the work of the Redeemer, where it is represented as a "gift," either on the part of God, or on the part of Christ himself; see note on John 3:16; compare John 4:10; Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:14. This passage proves:
(1) That it was wholly voluntary on the part of the Lord Jesus. No one compelled him to come; no one could compel him. It is not too much to say, that God could not, and would not compel any innocent and holy being to undertake the great work of the atonement, and endure the bitter sorrows which were necessary to redeem man. God will compel the guilty to suffer, but he never will compel the innocent to endure sorrows, even on behalf of others. The whole work of redemption must be voluntary, or it could not be performed.
(2) it evinced great benevolence on the part of the Redeemer. He did not come to take upon himself unknown and unsurveyed woes. He did not go to work in the dark. He knew what was to be done. He knew just what sorrows were to be endured - how long, how keen, how awful. And yet, knowing this, he came resolved and prepared to endure all those woes, and to drink the bitter cup to the dregs.
(3) if there had not been this benevolence in his bosom, man must have perished forever. He could not have saved himself; and he had no power or right to compel another to suffer on his behalf; and even God would not lay this mighty burden on any other, unless he was entirely willing to endure it. How much then do we owe to the Lord Jesus; and how entirely should we devote our lives to him who loved us, and gave himself for us. The word "himself," is rendered by the Syriac, "his life" (nafsh); and this is in fact the sense of the Greek, that he gave his "life" for our sins, or that he died in our stead. He gave his "life" up to toil, tears, privation, sorrow, and death, that he might redeem us. The phrase, "for our sins" (ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν huper tōn hamartiōn hēmōn), means the same as on account of; meaning, that the cause or reason why he gave himself to death, was our sins; that is, he died because we are sinners, and because we could be saved only by his giving himself up to death. Many mss. instead of (ὑπὲρ huper), here read (περὶ peri), but the sense is not materially varied. The Syriac translates it, "who gave himself instead of," by a word denoting that there was a "substitution" of the Redeemer in our place. The sense is, that the Lord Jesus became a vicarious offering, and died in the stead of sinners. It is not possible to express this idea more distinctly and unambiguously than Paul has done, in this passage. Sin was the procuring cause of his death; to make expiation for sin was the design of his coming; and sin is pardoned and removed only by his substituted suffering.
That he might deliver us - The word used here (ἐξέληται exelētai) properly means, to pluck out, to tear out; to take out from a number, to select; then to rescue or deliver. This is the sense here. He came and gave himself that he might "rescue or deliver" us from this present evil world. It does not mean to take away by death, or to remove to another world, but that he might effect a separation between us and what the apostle calls here, "this present evil world." The grand purpose was, to rescue sinners from the dominion of this world, and to separate them unto God.
This present evil world - See John 17:15-16. Locke supposes, that by this phrase is intended the Jewish institutions, or the Mosaical age, in contradistinction from the age of the Messiah. Bloomfield supposes, that it means "the present state of being, this life, filled as it is with calamity, sin, and sorrow; or, rather, the sin itself, and the misery consequent upon it." Rosenmuller understands by it, "the men of this age, Jews, who reject the Messiah; and pagans, who are devoted to idolatry and crime." The word rendered "world" (αἰὼν aiōn), means properly "age," an indefinitely long period of time; then eternity, forever. It then comes to mean the world, either present or future; and then the present world, as it is, with its cares, temptations, and desires; the idea of evil, physical and moral, being everywhere implied - Robinson, Lexicon; Matthew 13:22; Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34; Romans 12:2. Here it means the world as it is, without religion, a world of bad passions, false opinions, corrupt desires; a world full of ambition, and of the love of pleasure, and of gold; a world where God is not loved or obeyed; a world where people are regardless of right, and truth, and duty; where they live for themselves, and not for God; in short, that great community, which in the Scriptures is called the world, in contradistinction from the kingdom of God. That world, that evil world, is fall of sin; and the object of the Redeemer was to "deliver" us from that; that is, to effect a separation between his followers and that. It follows, therefore, that his followers constitute a unique community, not governed by the prevailing maxims, or influenced by the special feelings of the people of this world. And it follows, also, that if there is not in fact such a separation, then the purpose of the Redeemer's death, in regard to us, has not been effected, and we are still a part of that great and ungodly community, the world.
According to the will of God ... - Not by the will of man, or by his wisdom, but in accordance with the will of God. It was His purpose that the Lord Jesus should thus give himself; and his doing it was in accordance with His will, and was pleasing in His sight. The whole plan originated in the divine purpose, and has been executed in accordance with the divine will. If in accordance with His will, it is good, and is worthy of universal acceptation.
on Galatians 1 :4
1:4 That he might deliver us from the present evil world - From the guilt, wickedness, and misery wherein it is involved, and from its vain and foolish customs and pleasures. According to the will of God - Without any merit of ours. St. Paul begins most of his epistles with thanksgiving; but, writing to the Galatians, he alters his style, and first sets down his main proposition, That by the merits of Christ alone, giving himself for our sins, we are justified: neither does he term them, as he does others, either saints, elect, or churches of God.