By W. M. Ramsay
“Seeking to Please Men” (Gal 1:10)
In the Expositor, July, 1897, p. 66, Professor W. Locke pointed out in a most illuminative paper that, “in order to comprehend many passages in Paul’s letters, we must understand that certain phrases represent the substance, if not the actual words, of the taunts levelled in speech against him by his Jewish-Christian opponents”; and, to make this clear, he prints those phrases between inverted commas.
The phrases, “persuade men,” and “seek to please men” in Gal 1:10 are evidently of this nature. Paul was accused by the Judaising emissaries of trimming his words and ideas to suit the people among whom he was: it was said that in Jerusalem he Judaised, as when he concurred in the Decree: in Galatia among the Gentiles he made the Jews of no account: even when he brought the Decree at the order of the greater Apostles, he minimised and explained it away to suit the Galatians, but yet, to please the Jews, he circumcised Timothy. It was easy to distort Paul’s method of adapting himself to his audience and “becoming all things to all men,” so as to make this accusation very dangerous and plausible.
He recurs later to the taunts mentioned here; and in Gal 6:17 he dismisses them with the words, “from henceforth let no man trouble me”. In both places his answer is the same: he appeals to the sufferings which he has endured because of his teaching. If he had sought to please men, he would not be the slave of Christ: he bears in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus, for the marks left in his body by the stones at Lystra (and probably by the lictors’ rods at Antioch and Lystra, St. Paul, pp. 107, 304), brand him as the slave of Jesus.1 He leaves the Galatians to judge from his life whether he has aimed at pleasing men or at serving God.
 On the marking of slaves in Asia Minor, see p. 84.)