Reversio ad idolos
Reversion to false gods
4:8 Sed tunc quidem ignorantes Deum, iis, qui natura non sunt dii, serviebatis. [n. 218]
4:8 But then indeed, not knowing God, you served those who, by nature, are not gods. [n. 218]
4:9 Nunc autem cum cognoveritis Deum, immo cogniti sitis a Deo: quomodo convertimini iterum ad infirma et egena elementa, quibus denuo servire vultis? [n. 220]
4:9 But now, after you have known God, or rather are known by God: how do you turn again to the weak and needy elements which you desire to serve again? [n. 220]
4:10 Dies observatis, et menses, et tempora, et annos. [n. 225]
4:10 You observe days and months and times and years. [n. 225]
4:11 Timeo vos, ne forte sine causa laboraverim in vobis. [n. 226]
4:11 I am afraid of you, lest perhaps I have labored in vain among you. [n. 226]
218. Posita dignitate beneficii gratiae, et ostensa per exemplum humanum, hic Apostolus arguit Galatas, qui hanc gratiam contemnebant, utpote ingrati tanto beneficio. Et
218. Having disclosed the pre-eminence of the gift of grace and explained it with a human example, the Apostle here censures the Galatians, who scorned this grace, for being ungrateful for so great a gift.
primo arguit eos de ingratitudine;
First, he censures them for ingratitude;
secundo excusat se, quod hoc non facit ex odio et livore, ibi fratres, obsecro vos, non me laesistis, et cetera.
second, he excuses himself, explaining that he does not do this out of hatred or spite, at brethren, I beseech you (Gal 4:12).
Circa primum tria facit.
As to the first he does three things:
Primo commemorat statum pristinum;
first, he calls to mind their earlier state;
secundo extollit et commendat beneficium susceptum, ibi nunc autem cum cognoveritis, etc.;
second, he extols and commends the gift they have received, at but now, after that you have known God;
tertio exaggerat peccatum commissum, ibi quomodo convertimini, et cetera.
third, he amplifies the sin committed: how do you turn again to the weak and needy elements?
219. Dicit ergo sed tunc, etc., quasi dicat: nunc estis filii et haeredes per Deum, sed tunc quidem, cum gentes essetis. Eph. V, v. 8: eratis aliquando tenebrae, etc., ignorantes Deum, per infidelitatem, serviebatis, cultu latriae, his qui non sunt natura dii, sed opinione hominum. I Cor. XII, 2: cum gentes essetis, ad simulacra muta prout ducebamini euntes, et cetera. Rom. I, 25: servierunt creaturae potius quam Creatori, et cetera.
219. He says therefore: but then indeed, not knowing God, you served those who, by nature, are not gods. As if to say: you are now sons and heirs through God; but then indeed, when you were heathens—you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord (Eph 5:8)—not knowing God, through lack of faith, you served with the worship of latria, those who, by nature, are not gods, but by the opinion of men: you know that when you were heathens, you went to dumb idols, according as you were led (1 Cor 12:2); they served the creature rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25).
Hoc autem quod dicit qui natura non sunt dii, est ad confutationem Arianorum dicentium Christum Dei Filium non esse Deum per naturam. Quod si verum esset, non esset ei exhibendus cultus latriae, et quicumque exhiberet ei esset idololatra.
His statement, who, by nature, are not gods, serves to refute the Arians who said that Christ, the Son of God, is not God by nature. For if this were true, it would not be right to render him latria, and whoever rendered it would be an idolater.
Sed potest obiici, quia nos adoramus carnem et humanitatem Christi, ergo sumus idololatrae. Sed dicendum est, quod licet adoremus carnem, seu humanitatem Christi, adoramus tamen eam, ut unitam personae divini Verbi, quod quidem verbum est suppositum divinum. Unde cum adoratio debeatur supposito divinae naturae, quidquid in Christo adoratur, absque errore fit.
But someone might object that we adore the flesh and humanity of Christ; consequently, we are idolaters. I answer that even though we adore the flesh or humanity of Christ, we adore it as united to the person of the divine Word, who is a divine hypostasis. Hence, since adoration is due to a person of the divine nature, whatever is adored in Christ is done without error.
220. Consequenter cum dicit nunc autem cum cognoveritis, etc., commemorat acceptum beneficium, quasi dicat: si ignorantes eratis et peccabatis, tolerari poterat, nam, caeteris paribus, gravius est peccatum in Christiano, quam in gentili. Sed nunc cum cognoveritis Deum, id est sitis conducti ad Dei cognitionem, gravius peccatis quam olim, serviendo et ponendo spem in his in quibus non debetis. Ier. XXXI, 34: omnes cognoscent me, et cetera.
220. Then when he says, but now, after you have known God, or rather are known by God, he reminds them of the gift received. As if to say: if you had been ignorant and sinned, it could have been tolerated; for other things being equal, sin in a Christian is more grievous than in a pagan. But now, after you have known God, i.e., were brought to a knowledge of God, you sin more gravely than of old by serving and setting your hope on things you ought not: all shall know me, from the least of them even to the greatest (Jer 31:34).
Sed hoc quod dicit imo cogniti sitis a Deo, videtur contrarietatem habere, cum Deus ab aeterno omnia cognoverit. Eccli. XXIII, 29: Domino enim Deo antequam crearentur omnia sunt agnita, et cetera.
But the statement, or rather are known by God, seems to cause a difficulty, for God has known all things from eternity: all things were known to the Lord God before they were created (Sir 23:29).
Sed dicendum hoc causaliter esse dictum, ut sit sensus imo cogniti sitis a Deo, id est Deus fecit quod vos cognosceretis eum. Sic enim Deus dicitur cognoscere, inquantum est causa cognitionis nostrae. Et ideo, quia supra dixit: cum cognoveritis Deum, quae fuit vera locutio, statim corrigit et explicat eam praefiguratam innuendo quod non possumus Deum cognoscere ex nobis, nisi per ipsum. Io. I, 18: Deum nemo vidit unquam, sed unigenitus, qui est in sinu Patris, et cetera.
I answer that this is said causally, so that the sense is: you are known by God, i.e., God has caused you to know him. In this way, God is said to know inasmuch as he is the cause of our knowledge. Hence, because he had previously said, after you have known God, which was a true statement, he immediately amends and explains it with a figure of speech by intimating that we cannot know God of ourselves save by him: no man has seen God at any time: the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him (John 1:18).
221. Consequenter exprobrat peccatum commissum, dicens quomodo convertimini, et cetera. Et
221. Then he upbraids them for the sin committed, saying: how do you turn again to the weak and needy elements?
primo exaggerat eorum peccatum;
First, he amplifies their sin;
secundo ostendit imminens periculum, ibi timeo vos ne forte, etc.;
second, he shows their imminent danger, at I am afraid of you;
tertio reducit eos ad salutis statum, ibi estote sicut ego, et cetera.
third, he draws them back to a state of safety, at be you as I (Gal 4:12).
Circa primum duo facit.
As to the first, he does two things:
Primo proponit peccatum commissum;
first, he mentions the sin committed;
secundo de peccato commisso eos convincit, ibi dies observatis, et cetera.
second, he convinces them of it, at you observe days.
222. Sciendum est autem, quod haec littera dupliciter legitur. Uno modo, quia isti Galatae a fide convertebantur ad idololatriam, et ideo dicit quomodo convertimini a fide iterum, id est denuo, II Petr. II, 21: melius erat eis non cognoscere viam iustitiae, quam post, et cetera. Is. XLII, 17: conversi sunt retrorsum, etc. ad elementa, scilicet mundi, quae sunt infirma, per se subsistere non valentia, quia in nihilum deciderent, nisi ea manus cuncta regentis teneret, secundum illud Hebr. I, 3: portans omnia verbo virtutis suae, etc. et egena, quia egent Deo et seipsis ad invicem, ad complementum universi, quibus, scilicet elementis, denuo, id est iterum, servire vultis, servitute scilicet latriae. Probatio huius manifeste apparet, quia observatis dies, scilicet faustos et infaustos, et menses, et tempora, et annos, id est constellationes et cursum corporum caelestium, quae omnia ortum habent ab idololatria. Contra quod dicit Ier. X, 2: a signis caeli nolite metuere, quae gentes, et cetera.
222. It should be pointed out that this passage is interpreted in two ways: in one way, that those Galatians had turned from the faith to idolatry. For this reason he says, how do you turn from the faith again, i.e., a second time. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice than, after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them (2 Pet 2:21); they are turned back (Isa 42:17). To the elements, namely, of the world, which are weak, unable by themselves to subsist, because they would lapse into nothingness unless upheld by the hand which rules all things—upholding all things by the word of his power (Heb 1:3)—and needy, because they need God and one another to fill out the universe, which, namely, the elements, you desire to serve with the service of latria again, i.e., for a second time. And the proof of this is obvious, because you observe days, auspicious and inauspicious, and months and times and years, i.e., the constellations and the course of the heavenly bodies, all of which observances spring from idolatry, against which Jeremiah says: be not afraid of the signs of heaven which the heathens fear (Jer 10:2).
Et quod observationes huiusmodi malae sint et contra cultum Christianae religionis, patet: quia distinctio dierum, mensium, annorum, et temporum attenditur secundum cursum solis et lunae. Et ideo tales temporum distinctiones observantes, venerantur corpora caelestia, et disponunt actus suos secundum iudicium astrorum, quae nullam directam impressionem habent in voluntate hominis, et in his quae dependent a libero arbitrio. Et ex hoc imminet grave periculum. Unde dicit timeo ne forte sine causa, id est inutiliter laboraverim in vobis. Et ideo cavendum est fidelibus talia observare; sed nulla debet esse eis suspicio harum rerum, quia prospere potest cedere quidquid sub Dei devotione simpliciter agitur.
That observances of this sort are evil and contrary to the worship of the Christian religion is plain, because the distinction of days, months, times and years is based on the course of the sun and moon. Therefore, those who observe such distinctions of times are venerating heavenly bodies and arranging their activities according to the evidence of the stars, which have no direct influence on the human will or on things that depend on free will. By this practice they are put in grave danger. Hence he says: I am afraid lest perhaps I labored in vain, i.e., fruitlessly, among you. Therefore the faithful must avoid observing such things. Indeed, no suggestion of these things should be found among them, for whatever is done simply out of devotion to God can turn out prosperously.
Sed numquid licet in aliquo cursum stellarum servare?
But is it never lawful to look for the influence of the stars on certain things?
Dicendum est, quod corpora caelestia quorumdam quidem effectuum causa sunt, scilicet corporalium: et in istis licet ipsorum cursum attendere; quorumdam autem non sunt causa, scilicet eorum quae dependent a libero arbitrio, seu a fortuna, vel infortunio: et in istis servare cursum astrorum pertinet ad idololatriam.
I answer that heavenly bodies are the cause of certain effects, namely, bodily. In such things it is lawful to consider their influence. But they are not the cause of certain other things, i.e., of things that depend on free will or on good and bad fortune. Hence, in such cases, to look for the influence of the stars pertains to idolatry.
223. Sed licet haec lectura sustineri possit, non tamen est secundum intentionem Apostoli. Cum enim ipse in tota praecedenti serie huius epistolae, et in sequenti, arguat Galatas de hoc quod a fide transtulerunt se ad observantiam legis, ideo magis ad propositum exponitur de hoc, quod ad legales observantias convertuntur.
223. But although this interpretation might be upheld, it does not accord with the Apostle’s intention. For since in the entire section preceding this passage, as well as in all that follows it, he is censuring the Galatians for removing themselves from the faith and turning to the observances of the law, it is more in keeping with his intention to expound it as referring to their turning to the legal observances.
Unde dicit: cum cognoveritis Deum per fidem, quomodo convertimini a fide ad elementa, id est ad litteralem legis observantiam? Quae dicitur elementa, quia lex fuit prima institutio divini cultus; elementa, dico, infirma, quia non perficit iustificando Hebr. c. VII, 19: neminem ad perfectum adduxit lex; egena, quia non confert virtutes et gratiam, adiuvando per se.
Hence he says: after you have known God through faith, how do you turn from the faith to the elements, i.e., to the literal observance of the law? It is called an element, because the law was the prime institution of divine worship. To elements, I say, that are weak, because they do not bring to perfection by justifying: for the law brought no one to perfection (Heb 7:19), and needy, because they do not confer virtues and grace or offer any help of themselves.
224. Sed quid est quod dicit convertimini? Et videtur hoc inconvenienter dictum. Similiter et hoc, quod dicit denuo. Nam isti nec Iudaei fuerant, nec alias legalia servaverant.
224. But what does he mean by do you turn? For to say this, as well as to say, again, seems inappropriate, for they neither were Jews nor had they formerly observed the law.
Ad quod dicendum est, quod cultus Iudaeorum medius est inter cultum Christianorum et gentilium. Nam gentiles colebant elementa ipsa tamquam viva quaedam; Iudaei vero elementis quidem non serviebant, sed Deo sub ipsis elementis, inquantum observationibus corporalium elementorum Deo cultum exhibebant. Supra eodem: sub elementis huius mundi eramus servientes.
I answer that the Jewish worship is midway between the worship of the Christians and that of the gentiles: for the gentiles worshipped the elements as though they were living things; the Jews, on the other hand, did not serve the elements but served God under the elements, inasmuch as they rendered worship to God by the observances of bodily elements: we were serving under the elements of the world (Gal 4:3).
Christiani vero serviunt Deo sub Christo, id est in fide Christi. Quando autem aliquis pervenit ad terminum, transacto medio, si iterum redire velit ad medium, idem videtur ac si velit redire ad principium. Et ideo Apostolus, quia isti iam pervenerant ad terminum, scilicet ad fidem Christi, et tunc redierunt ad medium, scilicet ad cultum Iudaeorum, inde est, quod propter quamdam conformitatem medii ad principium, dicit eos converti ad elementa, et denuo eis servire.
But Christians serve God under Christ, i.e., in the faith of Christ. Now when a person reaches a terminus after passing through the middle, if he then decides to return to the middle, it seems to be the same as returning to the very beginning. Therefore, because they had already reached the terminus, namely, faith in Christ, and then returned to the middle, i.e., to the Jewish worship, then because of a resemblance of middle to beginning, the Apostle says that they are turned to the elements and are serving them again.
225. Et quod ita sit probat, cum dicit dies observatis, Iudaico ritu, scilicet sabbata, et decimum primi mensis, et huiusmodi, quae dicuntur in Glossa; menses, id est Neomenias, ut primum et septimum mensem, ut habetur Lev. XXIII, 5 ss.; tempora, scilicet egressionis de Aegypto, et quod Ierosolymam tribus vicibus veniebant per singulos annos. Item annos iubilaei, et septimum annum remissionis.
225. That this is so, he proves when he says: you observe days of the Jewish rite, namely, sabbaths and the tenth day of the month and such things, which are mentioned in a Gloss, and months, i.e., new moons, as the first and seventh month, as is had in Leviticus 25, and times, namely, of the exodus from Egypt, and the practice of going to Jerusalem three times a year, and years of jubilee and the seventh year of remission.