Gal 4:12-16 Respecting the Messenger

Jan 19, 2014
Respecting the Messenger

Gal 4:12-16
I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

Generally speaking if a person is going to accept the message he also has to accept the messenger. Have you ever notice how two preachers can give the same message and yet some people may accept one and criticize or ignore the other? This is often because they don't respect one of the preachers. In fact if a person doesn't respect you, it may become impossible to teach that person anything, or even so much as to carry on a conversation or debate with such a person. Therefore a number of times throughout Galatians we find Paul either reminding them of the respect they had for him or otherwise trying to gain their respect.

Some have speculated that the illness he refers to was an eye disease known as ophthalmia. Kenneth Wuest comments:

Regarding Paul's illness at Antioch, the following facts should be noted

1. It occurred under the observation of the Galatians who watched its progress, were familiar with its repulsive symptoms, and showed tender sympathy toward the sufferer. This fact may help us to understand the words, "Ye had done me no wrong."The Galatians might easily have spurned Paul and refused his fellowship. There he was, a Jew, and a stranger to them, afflicted with an illness that normally aroused disgust and loathing by reason of its repulsive nature. But instead of doing Paul the wrong of rejecting him, they welcomed him with open arms, and his gospel message with open hearts.

2. The Galatians knew that Paul had not intended to work among them. His face was turned to the Greek cities of Asia Minor and the mainland of Greece itself. They knew that he was detained amongst them by his illness.

3. This illness incapacitated him for further travel, yet allowed free intercourse with those around him.

4. The success he had in winning the Galatians to the Lord Jesus indicates that his illness was of a chronic nature. His sick chamber was his pulpit.

5. In connection with his reference to his illness, Paul mentions the fact in vs 15 that if it had been possible, the Galatians would have plucked out their eyes and would have given them to him. The inference should be clear that he needed a new pair of eyes, and that therefore his illness was an eye affliction. His words in Gal 6:11 "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" confirm this, the large Greek letters being necessary because of his impaired vision. A further confirmation of this is found in the fact that in the lowlands of Pamphylia, a region through which Paul had just passed on his way to Pisidian Antioch, an oriental eye disease called ophthalmia was prevalent. In addition to all this, the Greek words translated "despised" and "rejected," indicate that the illness had caused him to have a repulsive appearance, which answers to the symptoms of ophthalmia.

Word Studies in the Greek New Testament
by Kenneth Wuest

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources