8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.
9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?
10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
then (v.8) — before they trusted Christ
did not know (v.8) — hadn’t grasped the fact, unknowing
nature (v.8) — belongs by virtue of origin, essential character
not gods (v.8) — idols, demons, men, anything worshiped which was not God and could not possibly be a god
now (v.9) — since salvation
known God (v.9) — know Christ (John 14:8-10), trust
known by God (v.9) — acknowledged by God, personal relationship with Him. We know God only by His finding of us. It isn’t by our effort. Salvation is all of God.
how is it that you turn again (v.9) — How does it come about that you are turning? How is it possible? Question of wonder. After being rescued from paganism and being in a personal relationship with full access to God, how is it possible that they could want to return to powerless bondage to the law?
In this respect the heathen religions, so far as they added anything of their own to that sense of dependence upon god which is innate in man and which they could not entirely crush (Acts 14:17; 17:23, 27-28; Romans 1:19-20), were wholly bad; they were profligate and soul-destroying, were the prompting of devils. On the contrary, in the Mosaic law, the spiritual element was most truly divine. But this does not enter into our reckoning here, for Christianity has appropriated all that was spiritual in its predecessor. The Mosaic dispensation was a foreshadowing, a germ of the gospel: and thus, when Christ came, its spiritual element was of necessity extinguished or rather absorbed by its successor. Deprived of this, it was a mere mass of lifeless ordinances, differing only in degree, not in kind, from any other ritualistic system. — Galatians in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, page 121.
weak (v.9) — powerless to produce results
beggarly (v.9) — powerless to enrich, poverty-stricken
elements (v.9) = rudiments, inefficient and incompetent for meeting needs (Romans 3:19-20)
again to be in bondage (v.9) — to enter into bondage, about to happen, this time to the law instead of to idols.
Paul’s point isn’t that the Galatians were returning to the law. They weren’t under it before. But by turning to the law, they were returning to a weak and beggarly system that was as ineffective as their old idolotry.
observe (v.10) — for their own profits
days (v.10) — sabbaths; months — new moons; seasons — feasts; years — years of sabbath and jubilee. Once the Galatians admitted any of the law, they would be under all of it (Colossians 2:16-17)