Weak and Beggarly Elements
Galatians 4:9
But now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements…

I. WEAK, because they have no power to rescue man from condemnation.

II. BEGGARLY, for they bring no rich endowments of spiritual treasures. A passionate and striking ritualism, expressing itself in bodily mortifications of the most terrible kind had been sup. planted by the simple spiritual teaching of the gospel. For a time the pure morality and lofty sanctions of the new faith appealed not in vain to their higher instincts, but they soon began to yearn after a creed which suited their material cravings better, and was more allied to the systems they had abandoned. This end they attained by overlaying the simplicity of the gospel with Judaic observances. This new phase is ascribed to the temper which their old heathen education had fostered It was a return to the "weak and beggarly elements" which they had outgrown, a renewed subjection to the "yoke of bondage" which they had thrown off in Christ. They had escaped from one ritualistic system, only to bow before another. The innate failings of a race whom Caesar (Bell. Gall. 6:16) describes as "excessive in its devotion to external observances" was here reasserting itself.

(Bishop Lightfoot.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

WEB: But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, why do you turn back again to the weak and miserable elemental principles, to which you desire to be in bondage all over again?

The Use and Abuse of Ordinances
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