You know God (Gal. 4:9)

“Now that you have come

To know God,

Or rather to be known

By God,

How can you again turn back

To the weak

And beggarly elemental spirits?

How can you want

To be enslaved

To them again?”

νῦν δὲ γνόντες Θεόν, μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὑπὸ Θεοῦ, πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα, οἷς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεῦσαι θέλετε;

Pau said, “Now that you have come to know God (νῦν δὲ γνόντες Θεόν), or rather to be known by God (μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὑπὸ Θεοῦ), how can you again turn back (πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν) to the weak (ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ) and beggarly elemental spirits (καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα)?  How can you want to be enslaved to them again (οἷς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεῦσαι θέλετε)?”  Only the Pauline letters used this word στοιχεῖα, that means the basic elements, the heavenly bodies, rudimentary principles, or an elementary rule.  These were the same elementary things mentioned earlier in verse 3.  It could be the first principles of education, like basic reading and writing.  It could be the physical elements of the world.  It could also mean deified heavenly bodies like stars or moons that the pagan gentiles worshipped.  Paul then asked one of his questions that he knew the answer to.  The Galatians had come to know God, or more precisely to be known by God.  How could they turn their back on God and return to the weak and elementary heavenly bodies that the they called idol gods?  Paul wanted to know why they were returning to their former false pagan worship of manmade idols when they were known and knew the one true God.  Paul was insistent that once they had knowledge of God, they should not return to those false idols that they had once worshipped.  Do you sometimes worship man-made material gods?

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