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Galatians 4:20

ESV I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
NIV how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
NASB but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone of voice, for I am at a loss about you!
CSB I would like to be with you right now and change my tone of voice, because I don't know what to do about you.
NLT I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don’t know how else to help you.
KJV I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.

What does Galatians 4:20 mean?

Paul concludes this current line of thought to the Galatians, expressing a sincere wish that he could be with them. He seems to be aware that his tone toward them may being coming across harshly. After all, he has asked if they consider him an enemy now after once honoring him and the message of salvation through faith in Jesus so highly (Galatians 4:16).

He has used strong language about their beginning to follow the law because of the false teaching of the Judaizers. He even called them "foolish" (Galatians 3:1). Of course, Paul's motivation for this approach is loving, and he is right to do so. For anyone to consider rejecting God's grace through faith in Christ in order to be judged by their own ability to keep the law is foolish, indeed!

Here, though, Paul seems concerned that he might put the Galatians off with his harshness, even if he writes to them out of a sincere love. He wishes he could be with them face-to-face so they could see in his eyes how deeply concerned he is for them. He says that he is just honestly perplexed about them. In other words, he doesn't get it! He struggles to understand what has happened to them.

In the following verses, Paul will leave behind his personal appeal to the Galatian Christians. Going forward, he will return to making the case from Scripture about why it is foolish to want to be under the law of Moses, instead of depending on faith in Christ.
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