Galatians 4:8

Paul’s Concern for the Galatians

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

Galatians 4:8 in Other Translations

KJV
8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
ESV
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
NLT
8 Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist.
MSG
8 Earlier, before you knew God personally, you were enslaved to so-called gods that had nothing of the divine about them.
CSB
8 But in the past, when you didn't know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods.

Galatians 4:8 Meaning and Commentary

Galatians 4:8

Howbeit then, when ye know not God
Whilst in Gentilism, and in a state of unregeneracy, they had no true knowledge of God; though they might know by the light of nature, and works of creation, that there was a God, yet they did not know who he was, but called either mortal men, or some one or other of the creatures, or stocks, and stones, and images of men's device, by this name; they knew not the God of Israel; they did not know God in Christ, and are therefore said to be without him; and a common description of them it is, that they knew not God: and whilst this was their case, what follows was true of them,

ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods;
only by name, and in the opinion of men, but have no divinity in them, are only called gods, mere nominal, fictitious deities, who have nothing of the nature and essence of God in them; for there is but one God by nature and essence, the Father, Son, and Spirit; all others have only the name and appearance, but not the truth of deity; and these the Gentiles in their times of ignorance did "service" to, which is what the Jews call (hrz hdwbe) , "strange service"; that is, idolatry, concerning which there is a whole treatise in the Talmud, and which bears that name F15. This service lay in paying homage to them, worshipping of them, and performing various rites and ceremonies in a way of adoration, and which they reckoned religious service; and which, comparatively speaking, whilst in this state of blindness, was excusable in them; though it is a wonderful instance of grace that such idolaters should be the sons of God.


FOOTNOTES:

F15 Aveda Zara.

Galatians 4:8 In-Context

6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

Cross References 3

  • 1. Romans 1:28; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:8
  • 2. S ver 3
  • 3. 2 Chronicles 13:9; Isaiah 37:19; Jeremiah 2:11; Jeremiah 5:7; Jeremiah 16:20; 1 Corinthians 8:4,5