Galatians 4:12 NASB

I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are.

In what way did Paul become as the Galatians?

1 Answer 1


Paul teaches a similar idea in 1 Cor 9:19-23 -

19 Though I am free of obligation to anyone, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), to win those under the law. 21 To those without the law I became like one without the law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

That is, Paul was in the habit of, as far as Christian morality permitted, of living like those whom he was trying to reach with the gospel of Christ. In Gal 4:12, and Paul's comment that "I became as you are", Ellicott observes this:

For I am as ye are.—I lay no stress on my pure Jewish descent. I claim no privileges because I was circumcised the eighth day. I do not count myself holier than you because I belonged to the strictest of all sects, the Pharisees. I stripped myself of all this, and became a Gentile among Gentiles.

Meyer is more detailed:

The correct interpretation is: “Become as I, become free from Judaism as I am, for I also have become as you; for I also, when I abandoned Judaism, thereby became as a Gentile (Galatians 2:14; Php 3:7 f.), and placed myself on the same footing with you who were then Gentiles, by non-subjection to the Mosaic law. Now render to me the reciprocum, to which love has a claim.” So Koppe, Winer, Usteri, Neander, Fritzsche, de Wette, Hilgenfeld. This interpretation is not only in the highest degree suitable to the thoughtful delicacy of the apostle—who might justly (in opposition to Wieseler’s objection) represent his former secession from Judaism as a service rendered to his readers (as Gentiles), because he had in fact seceded to be a converter of the Gentiles—but is the only explanation in harmony with the words and the context.

APPENDIX - Gal 4:12

The Greek of Gal 4:12 is characteristically Pauline with infuriatingly terse grammar. A literal rendering of the Greek is (my translation):

become as I [am] because I also [became/have become] as you ...

Note the two implied verbs in square brackets - the first [am] is uncontroversial but the second is inserted only on the basis of the implied repetition of the initial verb. Meyer explains it thus:

Ἐγενόμην must be supplied in the second clause, and to take it from γίνεσθε is just as allowable as in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (in opposition to Hofmann).

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