Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
known God or rather are known of God—They did not first know and love God, but God first, in His electing love, knew and loved them as His, and therefore attracted them to the saving knowledge of Him (Matthew 7:23; I Corinthians 8:3; II Timothy 2:19; compare Exodus 33:12, Exodus 33:17; John 15:16; Philippians 3:12). God's great grace in this made their fall from it the more heinous.
how—expressing indignant wonder at such a thing being possible, and even actually occurring (Galatians 1:6). "How is it that ye turn back again?"
weak—powerless to justify: in contrast to the justifying power of faith (Galatians 3:24; compare Hebrews 7:18).
beggarly—contrasted with the riches of the inheritance of believers in Christ (Ephesians 1:18). The state of the "child" (Galatians 4:1) is weak, as not having attained manhood; "beggarly," as not having attained the inheritance.
elements—"rudiments." It is as if a schoolmaster should go back to learning the A, B, C'S [BENGEL].
again—There are two Greek words in the original. "Ye desire again, beginning afresh, to be in bondage." Though the Galatians, as Gentiles, had never been under the Mosaic yoke, yet they had been under "the elements of the world" (Galatians 4:3): the common designation for the Jewish and Gentile systems alike, in contrast to the Gospel (however superior the Jewish was to the Gentile). Both systems consisted in outward worship and cleaved to sensible forms. Both were in bondage to the elements of sense, as though these could give the justification and sanctification which the inner and spiritual power of God alone could bestow.
ye desire—or "will." Will-worship is not acceptable to God (Colossians 2:18, Colossians 2:23).
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 I Corinthians 8:4; I Corinthians 10:19-20; II 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?
Other Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown entries containing Galatians 4:9:
1 Corinthians 8:3
1 Corinthians 13:12
DISCLAIMER: Church of the Great God (CGG) provides these resources to aid the individual in studying the Bible. However, it is up to the individual to "prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). The content of these resources does not necessarily reflect the views of CGG. They are provided for information purposes only.