Galatians 4:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 4:13, NIV: As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you,

Galatians 4:13, ESV: You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,

Galatians 4:13, KJV: Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.

Galatians 4:13, NASB: but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time;

Galatians 4:13, NLT: Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News.

Galatians 4:13, CSB: you know that previously I preached the gospel to you because of a weakness of the flesh.

What does Galatians 4:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has been making a series of appeals to the Galatians. These are his reasons why they should abandon any hope of becoming justified before God by following the Jewish law. Instead, they should accept the truth that they are already fully justified because of their faith in Christ. The two ideas are simply incompatible.

Paul began a new thought in the previous verse when he said that, during his time with them, they did nothing wrong to him. Now he will develop that idea, reminding them of their profound kindness to him and how deeply they believed what he taught about Jesus. He will ask pointedly: "What has changed?"

He begins with the strange-sounding statement that he first preached to them about faith in Christ because of an illness or "bodily ailment." We do not know from this passage or other books of the Bible what this illness was. We also don't know how an illness could have caused Paul to preach to this specific group of people. Bible scholars speculate that perhaps Paul came to their region to recover from an illness, such as malaria. Or perhaps Paul intended to pass right through their region but could not proceed because he got sick.

In any case, Paul's readers would have known exactly what he meant. They, along with him, understood Paul's illness to have been a God-engineered occurrence that provided the opportunity for him to preach to them about Jesus. As the following verses reveal, their response to Paul's illness was kindness and not rejection.