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Galatians 4:15 – What was wrong with Paul’s eyes?

31-08-2022 - Posted by Hans

Where then, is your happiness? For I am testifying to you, that, if possible, gouging out your eyes you would give them to me.

Gratefully the apostle thinks back to the way in which the Galatians once received him. Despite his “weakness of the flesh” (read: sickness or disease), on the basis of which he could easily have been rejected (4:14). On the contrary, he was received as a “messenger from God, as Christ Jesus”. Their love for Paul went so far that if it had been possible they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him. This strongly indicates that the ailment from which Paul suffered had to do with his eyes. For why else would the Galatians have wanted to give their eyes to him?

At the end of this letter (6:11) we find another remark pointing in this direction. Paul dictated his letters (Rom.16:22; 1Cor.16:21)) but consistently closed each letter with a private greeting (2Thes.3:17). This also applies to the Galatians letter in which he mentions: “Take note, with how large letters I write to you”. Why “big letters”? Was he nearsighted? And if so, why? Would it perhaps refer back to the literally blinding light that appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:8; 22:11)?