The Meaning of Galatians 4:10 Explained

Galatians 4:10

KJV: Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.

YLT: days ye observe, and months, and times, and years!

Darby: Ye observe days and months and times and years.

ASV: Ye observe days, and months, and seasons, and years.

What does Galatians 4:10 Mean?

Context Summary

Galatians 4:1-11 - Live As Sons, Not As Bondmen
The Apostle often uses the word elements or "rudiments," Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:9; Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:20. High and holy as was the Mosaic legislation in itself, yet when it was imposed upon inquiring minds as necessary to salvation, Paul spoke of it as belonging to an age that had passed away and to a system that was already antiquated. The whole purpose of God in sending forth His Son was to redeem us from under the Law, that we might enjoy the liberty and joy of the Father's home. We are no longer infants under age, or servants, but sons, and if sons, then heirs of God.
There is often a slavishness among professing Christians that is sadly out of keeping with their rightful position in Christ. Do not be scrupulous or over-anxious. Do not be punctilious. Live in your Father's house in constant freedom of heart. Remember that you are under the same roof as Christ, and are therefore allowed to avail yourself of all His grace and help. Refuse no task, however irksome, that God sets before you; and do not worry about irksome rules or petty vexations. [source]

Chapter Summary: Galatians 4

1  We were under the law till Christ came, as the heir is under the guardian till he be of age
5  But Christ freed us from the law;
7  therefore we are servants no longer to it
14  Paul remembers the Galatians' good will to him, and his to them;
22  and shows that we are the sons of Abraham by the freewoman

Greek Commentary for Galatians 4:10

Ye observe [παρατηρειστε]
Present middle indicative of old verb to stand beside and watch carefully, sometimes with evil intent as in Luke 6:7, but often with scrupulous care as here (so in Dio Cassius and Josephus). The meticulous observance of the Pharisees Paul knew to a nicety. It hurt him to the quick after his own merciful deliverance to see these Gentile Christians drawn into this spider-web of Judaizing Christians, once set free, now enslaved again. Paul does not itemize the “days” (Sabbaths, fast-days, feast-days, new moons) nor the “months” (Isaiah 66:23) which were particularly observed in the exile nor the “seasons” (passover, pentecost, tabernacles, etc.) nor the “years” (sabbatical years every seventh year and the Year of Jubilee). Paul does not object to these observances for he kept them himself as a Jew. He objected to Gentiles taking to them as a means of salvation. [source]
Ye observe [παρατήρεισθε]
See on Mark 3:2, and see on John 18:12, and comp. Joseph. Ant. 3:5,5, παρατηρεῖν τὰς ἑβδομάδας towatch the weeks. The word denotes careful, scrupulous observance, an intent watching lest any of the prescribed seasons should be overlooked. A merely legal or ritual religion always develops such scrupulousness. [source]
Days []
Sabbaths, fast-days, feast-days, new moons. Comp. Romans 14:5, Romans 14:6; Colossians 2:16. [source]
Months []
Sacred months. Comp. Isaiah 66:23. In the preexilic time the months were mostly not named but numbered first, second, third, etc., and this usage appears also in the post-exilic writings of the O.T. Only four months had special names: the first, Abib, the ear month, which marked the beginning of harvest (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18): the second, Sif or Zîv, the flower month (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 6:37): the seventh, Ethanum, the month of streaming rivers fed by the autumnal rains (1 Kings 8:2): the eighth, Bul, the month of rain (1 Kings 6:38). In the post-exilic time names for all the months came into use, the most of which appear in the Palmyrene inscriptions and among the Syrians. According to the Talmud, the returning Jews brought these names from Babylon. The names of all are found in a month table discovered at Nineveh. Nîsan corresponds to Abib (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7), answering to the latter part of March and April. Jjar answered to Ziv (Targ. 2 Chronicles 30:2), our May. Tisri to Ethanim, the seventh month of the ecclesiastical, and the first of the civil year, corresponding to October. Marcheschwan (see Joseph. Ant. 1:3,3) answered to Bul and November. Tisri, being the seventh or sabbatical month, was peculiarly sacred, and the fourth (Sivan, June), fifth (Ab, August), and tenth (Tebeth, January) were distinguished by special fasts. [source]
Times [καιροὺς]
Better, seasons. See on Matthew 12:1; see on Ephesians 1:10, and comp. Leviticus 23:4. The holy, festal seasons, as Passover Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles. See 2 Chronicles 8:13. [source]
Years [ἐνιαυτούς]
Sabbatical years, occurring every seventh year. Not years of Jubilee, which had ceased to be celebrated after the time of Solomon. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Galatians 4:10

Acts 20:6 After the days of unleavened bread [μετα τας ημερας των αζυμων]
Paul was a Jew, though a Christian, and observed the Jewish feasts, though he protested against Gentiles being forced to do it (Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16). Was Luke a proselyte because he notes the Jewish feasts as here and in Acts 27:9 ? He may have noted them merely because Paul observed them. But this passover was a year after that in Ephesus when Paul expected to remain there till Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8). He was hoping now to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16) as he did. We do not know the precise year, possibly a.d. 56 or 57. [source]
Galatians 4:3 Elements of the world [τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου]
For the word στοιχεῖα in N.T. see Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:20; Hebrews 5:12; 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12. See on 2 Peter 3:10. Interpretations differ. 1. Elements of knowledge, rudimentary religious ideas. See Hebrews 5:12. The meaning of world will then be, the material as distinguished from the spiritual realm. Elements of the world will be the crude beginnings of religion, suited to the condition of children, and pertaining to those who are not Christians: elementary religious truths belonging to mankind in general. Thus the Jewish economy was of the world as appealing to the senses, and affording only the first elements of a spiritual system. The child-heir was taught only faint outlines of spiritual truth, and was taught them by worldly symbols. 2. Elements of nature - of the physical world, especially the heavenly bodies. See 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12; Wisd. 7:17. According to this explanation, the point would be that the ordering of the religious life was regulated by the order of nature; “the days, months, times,” etc. (Galatians 4:10), as well as the heathen festivals, being dependent on the movements of the heavenly bodies. This was the patristic view (Ambrose, Augustine, Chrysostom, Theodoret). 3. The elements of the world are the personal, elemental spirits. This seems to be the preferable explanation, both here and in Colossians 2:8. According to Jewish ideas, all things had their special angels. In the Book of Jubilees, chapter 2, appear, the angel of the presence (comp. Isaiah 63:9); the angel of adoration; the spirits of the wind, the clouds, darkness, hail, frost, thunder and lightning, winter and spring, cold and heat. In the Book of Enoch, 82:10-14, appear the angels of the stars, who keep watch that the stars may appear at the appointed time, and who are punished if the stars do not appear (18:15). In the Revelation of John we find four angels of the winds (14:18); the angel of the waters (16:5); the angel in the sun (19:17). In Hebrews 1:7we read, “who maketh his angels winds.” Paul also recognizes elemental forces of the spiritual world. The thorn is “a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7); Satan prevents his journey to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:18); the Corinthian offender is to be “delivered to Satan” (1 Corinthians 5:5); the Kingdom of God is opposed by “principalities and powers” (1 Corinthians 15:24); Christians wrestle against “the rulers of the darkness of this world; against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the upper regions” (Ephesians 6:12). In this passage the elements of the world are compared with overseers and stewards. This would seem to require a personal interpretation. In Galatians 4:8, “did service to them which by nature are no gods,” appears to be = “in bondage under the elements,” suggesting a personal interpretation of the latter. The Galatians had turned again to the observance of times and seasons (Galatians 4:10), which were controlled by the heavenly bodies and their spirits. -DIVIDER-

Galatians 4:14 Ye despised not nor rejected [οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε]
Commonly explained by making both verbs govern your temptation. Thus the meaning would be: “You were tempted to treat my preaching contemptuously because of my bodily infirmity; but you did not despise nor reject that which was a temptation to you.” This is extremely far fetched, awkward, and quite without parallel in Paul's writings or elsewhere. It does not suit the following but received me, etc. It lays the stress on the Galatians' resistance of a temptation to despise Paul; whereas the idea of a temptation is incidental. On this construction we should rather expect Paul to say: “Ye did despise and repudiate this temptation.” Better, make your temptation, etc., dependent on ye know (Galatians 4:13); place a colon after flesh, and make both verbs govern me in the following clause. Rend. “Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you the first time, and (ye know) your temptation which was in my flesh: ye did not despise nor reject me, but received me.” The last clause thus forms one of a series of short and detached clauses beginning with Galatians 4:10. Ὁυκ ἐξουθενήσατε yedid not set at nought, from οὐδέν nothingThe form οὐθέν occurs Luke 22:35; Luke 23:14; Acts 19:27; Acts 26:26; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 11:8. For the compound here, comp. Luke 18:9; Luke 23:11; Acts 4:11; 2 Corinthians 10:10. oClass. Ἑξεπτύσατε spurnedN.T.oLit. spat out. A strong metaphor, adding the idea of contempt to that of setting at nought. Comp. Hom. Od. v. 322; Aristoph. Wasps, 792. The two verbs express contemptuous indifference. Ἑμέσαι tovomit, as a figure of contemptuous rejection, is found in Revelation 3:16. The simple πτύειν tospit only in the literal sense in N.T. Mark 7:33; Mark 8:23; John 9:6, and no other compound occurs. [source]
Colossians 2:16 Let no one judge you [μη τις υμας κρινετω]
Prohibition present active imperative third singular, forbidding the habit of passing judgment in such matters. For κρινω — krinō see note on Matthew 7:1. Paul has here in mind the ascetic regulations and practices of one wing of the Gnostics (possibly Essenic or even Pharisaic influence). He makes a plea for freedom in such matters on a par with that in 1 Corinthians 8-9; Romans 14; 15. The Essenes went far beyond the Mosaic regulations. For the Jewish feasts see note on Galatians 4:10. Josephus (Ant. III. 10, 1) expressly explains the “seventh day” as called “sabbata ” (plural form as here, an effort to transliterate the Aramaic sabbathah). [source]
Colossians 1:19 All the fulness [παν το πληρωμα]
The same idea as in Colossians 2:9 παν το πληρωμα της τεοτητος — pān to plērōma tēs theotētos (all the fulness of the Godhead). “A recognized technical term in theology, denoting the totality of the Divine powers and attributes” (Lightfoot). It is an old word from πληροω — plēroō to fill full, used in various senses as in Mark 8:20 of the baskets, Galatians 4:10 of time, etc. The Gnostics distributed the divine powers among various aeons. Paul gathers them all up in Christ, a full and flat statement of the deity of Christ. Should dwell (κατοικησαι — katoikēsai). First aorist active infinitive of κατοικεω — katoikeō to make abode or home. All the divine attributes are at home in Christ (εν αυτωι — en autōi). [source]

What do the individual words in Galatians 4:10 mean?

Days you observe and months seasons years
ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε καὶ μῆνας καιροὺς ἐνιαυτούς

ἡμέρας  Days 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Plural
Root: ἡμέρα  
Sense: the day, used of the natural day, or the interval between sunrise and sunset, as distinguished from and contrasted with the night.
παρατηρεῖσθε  you  observe 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle, 2nd Person Plural
Root: παρατηρέω  
Sense: to stand beside and watch, to watch assiduously, observe carefully.
μῆνας  months 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: μήν2  
Sense: a month.
καιροὺς  seasons 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: καιρός  
Sense: due measure.
ἐνιαυτούς  years 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: ἐνιαυτός  
Sense: a year, in a wider sense, for some fixed definite period of time.