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Galatians 4:17

ESV They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.
NIV Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.
NASB They eagerly seek you, not in a commendable way, but they want to shut you out so that you will seek them.
CSB They court you eagerly, but not for good. They want to exclude you from me, so that you would pursue them.
NLT Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them.
KJV They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.

What does Galatians 4:17 mean?

When Paul first came to the Galatians, they received the good news about Jesus with great joy (Galatians 1:6). They also honored Paul, even in spite of an unknown illness that he described as a trial to them (Galatians 4:13–14). Then some false teachers moved in. These men were known as the Judaizers. They came from Jerusalem and went to many of the places where people believed the good news Paul preached about Jesus. They taught that it was good to believe in Jesus, but that these new Christians must also follow the law of Moses to truly be saved (Galatians 2:4).

Paul had learned that the Galatians were beginning to believe this false teaching and reject the true message of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. They were starting to follow the law to earn God's approval. They no longer honored Paul. In the previous verse, Paul asked if he had become their enemy by telling them the truth.

Now he unmasks the tactics of the false teachers who are lying to the Galatians. They use flattery to "make much of" their victims. Far from genuine encouragement and affirmation, the Judaizers puff people up to get them on their own side. It's a manipulation of the human desire to feel important.

Part of the goal of this flattery, Paul says, is to alienate the Galatians from him—to "shut out." If the Judaizers can get the Galatians to turn away from Paul, then these new believers will "make much of" the Judaizers. In other words, Paul reveals the ultimate motive of the false teachers: the promotion of their own glory.
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