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Galatians 4:18

ESV It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you,
NIV It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you.
NASB But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable way, and not only when I am present with you.
CSB But it is always good to be pursued in a good manner--and not just when I am with you.
NLT If someone is eager to do good things for you, that’s all right; but let them do it all the time, not just when I’m with you.
KJV But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.

What does Galatians 4:18 mean?

In the previous verse, Paul has revealed that false teachers among the Galatians are turning them away from Paul, and his gospel of salvation by faith alone, in order to put themselves in the spotlight. The way they are accomplishing this is by "making much of" or flattering the Galatians.

This flattery used by the Judaizers may have been a simple manipulation. Perhaps, though, Paul means something deeper than that. The lie that we can become acceptable to God by following the law is a lie that makes much of ourselves. Instead of being about what Christ has done for us, it becomes about what we can do for Him. All the focus of religious rule-following is on my performance. In contrast, the focus of salvation through faith in Christ is on His performance. It makes much of Him.

Paul has written that the false teachers are making much of them for no good purpose. Now Paul writes that it is fine for us to be built up, to be "made much of," if it is for a good purpose. The idea here may be that as we make much of Christ, we are "made much of" with Him.

Paul points out that this right attitude toward being made much of, or "eagerly looked for," should not change depending on whether he is with the Galatians or absent. In other words, they should not change their focus to fit with whatever teacher happens to be in town. Their focus on Christ should remain whether Paul is around or not.
What is the Gospel?
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