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Galatians 4:8 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods:
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— However then, when ye knew not God, ye did service to them which by nature are no gods.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— But then indeed, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to those who by nature are not gods;
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— But, at that time—not knowing God, ye were in servitude unto them who, by nature, are not Gods;
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— But then, indeed, not having known God, ye were in servitude to those not by nature gods,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— But then indeed, not knowing God, you served them who, by nature, are not gods.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Howbeit, then when ye knew not God, yee did seruice vnto them which by nature are no Gods.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— For, while not knowing Aloha, you served them who by their nature are not gods:
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— For then, when ye knew not God, ye served them who in their nature are not gods.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Howbeit 235
{0235} Prime
ἀλλά
alla
{al-lah'}
Neuter plural of G0243; properly other things, that is, (adverbially) contrariwise (in many relations).
then, 5119
{5119} Prime
τότε
tote
{tot'-eh}
From (the neuter of) G3588 and G3753; the when, that is, at the time that (of the past or future, also in consecution).
y3303
[3303] Standard
μέν
men
{men}
A primary particle; properly indicative of affirmation or concession (in fact); usually followed by a contrasted clause with G1161 (this one, the former, etc.
when x3303
(3303) Complement
μέν
men
{men}
A primary particle; properly indicative of affirmation or concession (in fact); usually followed by a contrasted clause with G1161 (this one, the former, etc.
ye knew 1492
{1492} Prime
εἰδῶ
eido
{i-do'}
A primary verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equivalent, G3700 and G3708; properly to see (literally or figuratively); by implication (in the perfect only) to know.
z5761
<5761> Grammar
Tense - Perfect (See G5778)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 193
not 3756
{3756} Prime
οὐ
ou
{oo}
A primary word; the absolutely negative (compare G3361) adverb; no or not.
God, 2316
{2316} Prime
θεός
theos
{theh'-os}
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very.
ye did service 1398
{1398} Prime
δουλεύω
douleuo
{dool-yoo'-o}
From G1401; to be a slave to (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily).
z5656
<5656> Grammar
Tense - Aorist (See G5777)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 2319
unto them which by nature 5449
{5449} Prime
φύσις
phusis
{foo'-sis}
From G5453; growth (by germination or expansion), that is, (by implication) natural production (lineal descent); by extension a genus or sort; figuratively native disposition, constitution or usage.
are 5607
{5607} Prime
ὤν
on
{oan}
The feminine, the neuter and the present participle of G1510; being.
z5752
<5752> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - No Voice Stated (See G5799)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 186
no 3361
{3361} Prime
μή
me
{may}
A primary particle of qualified negation (whereas G3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverbially) not, (conjugationally) lest; also (as interrogitive implying a negative answer [whereas G3756 expects an affirmative one]); whether.
gods. 2316
{2316} Prime
θεός
theos
{theh'-os}
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Galatians 4:8-11

_ _ Appeal to them not to turn back from their privileges as free sons, to legal bondage again.

_ _ then — when ye were “servants” (Galatians 4:7).

_ _ ye knew not God — not opposed to Romans 1:21. The heathen originally knew God, as Romans 1:21 states, but did not choose to retain God in their knowledge, and so corrupted the original truth. They might still have known Him, in a measure, from His works, but as a matter of fact they knew Him not, so far as His eternity, His power as the Creator, and His holiness, are concerned.

_ _ are no gods — that is, have no existence, such as their worshippers attribute to them, in the nature of things, but only in the corrupt imaginations of their worshippers (see on 1 Corinthians 8:4; see on 1 Corinthians 10:19, 1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Chronicles 13:9). Your “service” was a different bondage from that of the Jews, which was a true service. Yet theirs, like yours, was a burdensome yoke; how then is it ye wish to resume the yoke after that God has transferred both Jews and Gentiles to a free service?

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Galatians 4:8-11

_ _ In these verses the apostle puts them in mind of what they were before their conversion to the faith of Christ, and what a blessed change their conversion had made upon them; and thence endeavours to convince them of their great weakness in hearkening to those who would bring them under the bondage of the law of Moses.

_ _ I. He reminds them of their past state and behaviour, and what they were before the gospel was preached to them. Then they knew not God; they were grossly ignorant of the true God, and the way wherein he is to be worshipped: and at that time they were under the worst of slaveries, for they did service to those which by nature were no gods, they were employed in a great number of superstitious and idolatrous services to those who, though they were accounted gods, were yet really no gods, but mere creatures, and perhaps of their own making, and therefore were utterly unable to hear and help them. Note, 1. Those who are ignorant of the true God cannot but be inclined to false gods. Those who forsook the God who made the world, rather than be without gods, worshipped such as they themselves made. 2. Religious worship is due to none but to him who is by nature God; for, when the apostle blames the doing service to such as by nature were no gods, he plainly shows that he only who is by nature God is the proper object of our religious worship.

_ _ II. He calls upon them to consider the happy change that was made in them by the preaching of the gospel among them. Now they had known God (they were brought to the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ, whereby they were recovered out of the ignorance and bondage under which they before lay) or rather were known of God; this happy change in their state, whereby they were turned from idols to the living God, and through Christ had received the adoption of sons, was not owing to themselves, but to him; it was the effect of his free and rich grace towards them, and as such they ought to account it; and therefore hereby they were laid under the greater obligation to adhere to the liberty wherewith he had made them free. Note, All our acquaintance with God begins with him; we know him, because we are known of him.

_ _ III. Hence he infers the unreasonableness and madness of their suffering themselves to be brought again into a state of bondage. He speaks of it with surprise and deep concern of mind that such as they should do so: How turn you again, etc., says he, Galatians 4:9. “How is it that you, who have been taught to worship God in the gospel way, should not be persuaded to comply with the ceremonial way of worship? that you, who have been acquainted with a dispensation of light, liberty, and love, as that of the gospel is, should now submit to a dispensation of darkness, and bondage, and terror, as that of the law is?” This they had the less reason for, since they had never been under the law of Moses, as the Jews had been; and therefore on this account they were more inexcusable than the Jews themselves, who might be supposed to have some fondness for that which had been of such long standing among them. Besides, what they suffered themselves to be brought into bondage to were but weak and beggarly elements, such things as had no power in them to cleanse the soul, nor to afford any solid satisfaction to the mind, and which were only designed for that state of pupillage under which the church had been, but which had now come to a period; and therefore their weakness and folly were the more aggravated, in submitting to them, and in symbolizing with the Jews in observing their various festivals, here signified by days, and months, and times, and years. Here note, 1. It is possible for those who have made great professions of religion to be afterwards drawn into very great defections from the purity and simplicity of it, for this was the case of these Christians. And, 2. The more mercy God has shown to any, in bringing them into an acquaintance with the gospel, and the liberties and privileges of it, the greater are their sin and folly in suffering themselves to be deprived of them; for this the apostle lays a special stress upon, that after they had known God, or rather were known of him, they desired to be in bondage under the weak and beggarly elements of the law.

_ _ IV. Hereupon he expresses his fears concerning them, lest he had bestowed on them labour in vain. He had been at a great deal of pains about them, in preaching the gospel to them, and endeavouring to confirm them in the faith and liberty of it; but now they were giving up these, and thereby rendering his labour among them fruitless and ineffectual, and with the thoughts of this he could not but be deeply affected. Note, 1. A great deal of the labour of faithful ministers is labour in vain; and, when it is so, it cannot but be a great grief to those who desire the salvation of souls. Note, 2. The labour of ministers is in vain upon those who begin in the Spirit and end in the flesh, who, though they seem to set out well, yet afterwards turn aside from the way of the gospel. Note, 3. Those will have a great deal to answer for upon whom the faithful ministers of Jesus Christ bestow labour in vain.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Galatians 4:8

Indeed then when ye knew not God, ye served them that by nature — That is, in reality. Are no gods — And so were under a far worse bondage than even that of the Jews. For they did serve the true God, though in a low, slavish manner.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Galatians 4:8

(4) Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

(4) He applies the former doctrine to the Galatians, with a special rebuke: for in comparison with them, the Jews might have pretended some excuse as men that were born and brought up in that service of the Law. But seeing that the Galatians were taken and called out of idolatry to Christian liberty, what pretence might they have to go back to those impotent and beggarly elements?

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
when:

Exodus 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
Jeremiah 10:25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Ephesians 2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; ... That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Ephesians 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
1 Thessalonians 4:5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
2 Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

ye did:

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, [even] Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Psalms 115:4-8 Their idols [are] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. ... They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them.
Psalms 135:15-18 The idols of the heathen [are] silver and gold, the work of men's hands. ... They that make them are like unto them: [so is] every one that trusteth in them.
Isaiah 44:9-20 They that make a graven image [are] all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they [are] their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. ... He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, [Is there] not a lie in my right hand?
Jeremiah 10:3-16 For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. ... The portion of Jacob [is] not like them: for he [is] the former of all [things]; and Israel [is] the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts [is] his name.
Acts 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1 Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one.
1 Corinthians 10:19-20 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? ... But I [say], that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
1 Corinthians 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of [our] life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Ex 5:2. Jsh 24:2, 15. Ps 115:4; 135:15. Is 44:9. Jr 10:3, 25. Jn 1:10. Ac 14:12; 17:23, 29, 30. Ro 1:23, 28. 1Co 1:21; 8:4; 10:19; 12:2. Ep 2:11; 4:18. 1Th 1:9; 4:5. 2Th 1:8. 1P 4:3. 1Jn 3:1.

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