Galatians 4:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 4:14, NIV: and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

Galatians 4:14, ESV: and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:14, KJV: And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:14, NASB: and you did not despise that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition, nor express contempt, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.

Galatians 4:14, NLT: But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself.

Galatians 4:14, CSB: You did not despise or reject me though my physical condition was a trial for you. On the contrary, you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus himself.

What does Galatians 4:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is reminding his Galatian readers about how they came to know each other. More specifically, he is reminding them about their own kindness to him during a difficult time in his life and how they received him and the gospel of Jesus with honor. That, in turn, is part of his continuing encouragement to them: that they would rely solely on faith in Christ, and not on rituals or other works for their salvation.

Paul was sick when he first came to the Galatians. It may have been a flare-up of a chronic "bodily ailment" that afflicted him for much of his life. In 2 Corinthians 12, he describes having a Satan-sent, harassing "thorn in the flesh" allowed by God to keep him from becoming conceited because of all that God had revealed to him (2 Corinthians 12:7). Some scholars speculate that this "thorn" took the form of physical illness. Tradition suggests he struggled with a visual impairment.

Or, perhaps the illness Paul's refers to here was simply a disease that came and then went away. We don't know. In any case, Paul describes his condition as a trial or burden for the Galatians. Perhaps he required medical care from them or maybe it made him physically unappealing. Again, we don't know.

We do know that Paul saw this illness as something that could have made him look weak in the eyes of the Galatians. People often attempt to hide an illness because of a fear of appearing weak. In this era, it was even worse. Many people assumed illness to be the punishment of God or the gods for great wrongdoing. It marked a person as rejected by deity or guilty of great evil.

That's not how the Galatians responded to Paul, however. They did not scorn or despise him. Just the opposite, they received Paul as if he were an angel or Christ Himself. They likely did not believe he was either, but they so valued his message about faith in Jesus that they refused to allow his illness to keep them from honoring him.