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Galatia 4:8-11

Heirs of Promise Are Not to Return to Law

4:8 Formerly when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods at all. 1  4:9 But now that you have come to know God (or rather to be known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless 2  basic forces? 3  Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? 4  4:10 You are observing religious 5  days and months and seasons and years. 4:11 I fear for you that my work for you may have been in vain.

Galatia 4:17


4:17 They court you eagerly, 6  but for no good purpose; 7  they want to exclude you, so that you would seek them eagerly. 8 

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[4:8]  1 tn Grk “those that by nature…” with the word “beings” implied. BDAG 1070 s.v. φύσις 2 sees this as referring to pagan worship: “Polytheists worship…beings that are by nature no gods at all Gal 4:8.”

[4:9]  2 tn Or “useless.” See L&N 65.16.

[4:9]  3 tn See the note on the phrase “basic forces” in 4:3.

[4:9]  4 tn Grk “basic forces, to which you want to be enslaved…” Verse 9 is a single sentence in the Greek text, but has been divided into two in the translation because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence.

[4:10]  5 tn The adjective “religious” has been supplied in the translation to make clear that the problem concerns observing certain days, etc. in a religious sense (cf. NIV, NRSV “special days”). In light of the polemic in this letter against the Judaizers (those who tried to force observance of the Mosaic law on Gentile converts to Christianity) this may well be a reference to the observance of Jewish Sabbaths, feasts, and other religious days.

[4:17]  6 tn Or “They are zealous for you.”

[4:17]  7 tn Or “but not commendably” (BDAG 505 s.v. καλῶς 2).

[4:17]  8 tn Or “so that you would be zealous.”

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