The Apostle Paul addressed his Galatian epistle to “the churches of Galatia,” suggesting a plurality of congregations in that Roman province. These congregations existed as a result of his own efforts on his second preaching tour (Acts 16:6); on his third trip Paul “went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:23).
Not so very long after this second visit, Paul wrote the Galatian epistle to deal with problems which had been found in the midst of the Galatian Christians, especially the problem of the Judaizing teachers. The seriousness of this problem can be better realized when we learn that they had removed themselves from God, had fallen from God’s grace (Gal. 1:5; 5:4). The short statement of Galatians 5:7, serves a two-fold purpose: it reveals, by contrast, their condition as Christians before the problems entered and it reveals their condition after the problems had taken their toll.
“Ye Did Run Well”
The word “run” is “a metaphor taken from the runners in a race, to exert one’s self, strive hard; to spend one’s strength in performing or attaining something; Rom. 9:16; Gal. 5:7” (Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon on trecho). The adverb “well” is also defined by Thayer as “excellently, nobly, commendably; 1 Cor. 14:17; Gal. 5:7.”
From these definitions, we can understand that the Galatian Christians had been striving in a commendable way, they were exerting themselves in an excellent fashion, they had been spending their strength in a noble way, and they, no doubt, were pleasing to God while thus serving. I do not believe it would be an exaggeration to say that all Christians could be described in this way, at some time or other in our past. We were, then, serving nobly; we were performing in a commendable fashion, we were truly striving to please our God. The question that follows reveals their present condition.
“Who Did Hinder You That Ye Should Not Obey The Truth?”
They were not now obeying God’s Truth. They could not now be described as serving nobly; they could not be complimented for an excellent job, or for a commendable life. Some one was their excuse for not obeying the Truth. Vine defines the word “hinder” (enkopto) as follows: “… used of impeding persons by breaking up the road, or by placing an obstacle sharply in the , path; hence metaphorically – of hindering progress in the Christian life, Gal. 5:7, where the significance virtually is `who broke up the road along which you were traveling so well?’ ” Please notice that it makes no difference who it was that hindered them; they were still in a lost condition (Gal. 1:5; 5:4). How many of us find ourselves in this condition? We begin with enthusiasm, determination and dedication. We “run well” for a season!
A Practical Application
Who hinders us: That we do not attend all the services we can? That we do not give of our means as we should? That we do not work to lead others to Christ? That we do not make our home what the truth demands? When we fail to avoid the evils of the world as the truth directs? And, when we fail to grow as a Christian should?
We Can Control The Situation
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5). We are told to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:10). Also, we are told to bring our lives into harmony with the Gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27). Let each of us develop a sense of priorities (Mt. 6:33), and a proper sense of values (Mk. 8:36). Dear reader, who hinders you that you do not obey the truth? Remember, regardless of who (or what) it is, your soul is purified only in obeying the truth (1 Pet. 1:22). Inspiration says that they who do not obey the truth are foolish; “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal. 3:1).
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 12, p. 376
June 16, 1983