Saturday, January 29, 2011

Galatians 1:11-24, How Paul Became an Apostle (The Study of Galatians)

     11 For I make known to you, brothers, the gospel which was preached by me is not a product of man24 . 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me by25 the revealing of Jesus Christ26.
     13 For you heard of my former manner of life in the Jewish faith, that I was persecuting the church of God beyond measure and was trying to destroy it27, 14 and I was advancing in the Jewish faith above many contemporaries28 among my own people, being even more of a fanatic29 than they were of my forefathers’s tradition. 15 But when [God]30, who set me apart from my mother’s womb31 and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal32 his son in me, so that I might preach him among the gentiles, I did not immediately consult with other people33, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to the apostles before me34, but went into Arabia and returned again to Damascus.
     18 First of all35 , after three years36, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas37 and stayed with him fifteen days, 19 but I didn’t see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 Now in what I am writing to you, I swear before God38 that I am not lying39. 21 Then40, I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 But I was unknown by sight41 to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 But they were only hearing continually42, “The one who persecuted us once is now preaching the faith that he once tried to destroy”. 24 And they were glorifying43 God because of me.


Paul continues to go to great links to prove that he didn't receive the Gospel that he preached from the first eleven Apostles, nor any one else.  He explains that he had received it by God's revealing "his son in me".  Paul preached the Gospel for three years before he even went up to see any of the Apostles in Jerusalem.  He also makes it very clear that when he finally made the trip to Jerusalem, he only met with Peter and James, the Lord's brother who was also over the Church in Jerusalem.  This is a hint that Paul may have already known that there were people in James' Church who believed in continuing the practice of the Jewish Law.  As we go forward, they is evidence that these "believers" may have had some influence on the early Apostles.  At least we know that they did on Peter!  Paul made it a point not to see the people in that Church who would have been against the way he preached.  This must have been one of the accusations that these people made against Paul when they visited his Churches in Galatia: that he had spoken to them and he also believed as they did.  Paul says that is not true in his letter.  

24 κατὰ ἄνθρωπον (a product of man) 

Greek: “according to man”. In other words, a man didn’t come up with what Paul preached. This would have included Paul.

25 δι ̓ (by) 

or “through”.

26 δι ̓ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (by the revealing of Jesus Christ)

ἀποκάλυψις is “apocalypse” in english and is also the name of our final book in the New Testament. It is traditionally translated as “revelation”, but it really means “the revealing”. God revealed his son in Paul; both outwardly, as Paul saw Jesus on his way to Damascus, and inwardly, as Paul was completely transformed as the Spirit of God filled him.

Paul’s gospel is based on “the revealing of Jesus Christ” in him. In other words, Paul found out who Jesus really was; that he truly was “the anointed one”.

27 ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν (was trying to destroying it)

or “was trying to lay it waist”. This verb was commonly used to refer to a city that was being sacked.  Paul was attacking the church of God in order to bring it down and lay it waist.

28 συνηλικιώτας (contemporaries) 

They would have been people that were the same age or close to the same age as Paul.

29 ζηλωτὴς (a fanatic) 

or “a zealous person”.

30 [ὁ θεὸς] (God)

[ὁ θεὸς] is in brackets because it may not be original to the text. Original or not, God is the subject of the sentence whether implied or originally placed. I left it in if for no other reason than clarity.

31 ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου (who set me apart from my mother’s womb)

This passage shows Paul’s jewishness as he used a common phrase from the Old Testament here. In this case, he is paraphrasing from the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The phrase can mean either “since I was born” or “since before I was born”. It is probably the latter as that is how it is applied in the Old Testament.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

32 ἀποκαλύψαι (to reveal) 

ἀποκαλύπτω (apocalypto) means “to reveal” or “to unveil”. The noun form of the verb is used in verse 12 (ἀποκάλυψις). See note 24.

33 σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι (other people) 

Greek: “flesh and blood”. A Jewish idiom for mankind or human.

34 πρὸ ἐμοῦ (before me)

Referring to the Apostles that were first commissioned by Jesus; the twelve (eleven). This phrase should not be regarded as to “rank” as πρὸ ἐμοῦ is temporal as it relates to time. Paul was just stating that the “eleven” were commissioned before he was. That doesn’t make them of a higher rank as Paul was commissioned directly, in person, by the Lord himself. I’ve often wondered if Paul was God’s true replacement for Judas. Matthias was chosen by lot (Acts 1:26), but Paul was chosen by God.

35 Ἔπειτα (First of all)

Greek: “then”. “a point of time following another point”. This word is used to set up various points in a discussion. “First...then...and finally...” Paul uses this word three times (1:18, 1:21, and 2:1) and is setting up his defense of how he became an apostle and proving that his gospel was from no other person, including the Apostles.

36 Paul was preaching his gospel three years before ever visiting the leaders in Jerusalem.

37 Κηφᾶν (Cephas) 

Peter. Κηφᾶς is the transliterated Aramaic word for “rock”.

38 ἰδοὺ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ (I swear before God) 

Greek: “behold, before God”.

39 Apparently, the “apostles” from Jerusalem had told the people in the churches of Galatia that Paul had gotten all of his information from the apostles in Jerusalem. Paul is now going to extreme measures to prove that this accusation is false.

40 ”Then”. See note 32. The next event occurs.

41 τῷ προσώπῳ (by sight)

Greek: “by face”. In other words, the people of those churches wouldn’t recognize Paul even if they saw him.

42 ἀκούοντες ἦσαν (they were continually hearing) 

ἦσαν (were) is in the imperfect which carries a “continual” aspect. It could be translated: “they kept on hearing”.

43 ἐδόξαζον (they were glorifying)

ἐδόξαζον also is in the imperfect. It basically means that the people (they) would glorify God every time they heard of things that Paul was doing.

The Greek

11 Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ ̓ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον· 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτὸ οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην ἀλλὰ δι ̓ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 13 Ἠκούσατε γὰρ τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ, ὅτι καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν, 14 καὶ προέκοπτον ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς συνηλικιώτας ἐν τῷ γένει μου, περισσοτέρως ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων τῶν πατρικῶν μου παραδόσεων. 15 Ὅτε δὲ εὐδόκησεν [ὁ θεὸς] ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου καὶ καλέσας διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ 16 ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί, ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, εὐθέως οὐ προσανεθέμην σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι 17 οὐδὲ ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους, ἀλλὰ ἀπῆλθον εἰς Ἀραβίαν καὶ πάλιν ὑπέστρεψα εἰς Δαμασκόν. 18 Ἔπειτα μετὰ ἔτη τρία ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἱστορῆσαι Κηφᾶν καὶ ἐπέμεινα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμέρας δεκαπέντε, 19 ἕτερον δὲ τῶν ἀποστόλων οὐκ εἶδον εἰ μὴ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου. 20 ἃ δὲ γράφω ὑμῖν, ἰδοὺ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ὅτι οὐ ψεύδομαι. 21 Ἔπειτα ἦλθον εἰς τὰ κλίματα τῆς Συρίας καὶ τῆς Κιλικίας· 22 ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ. 23 μόνον δὲ ἀκούοντες ἦσαν ὅτι ὁ διώκων ἡμᾶς ποτε νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν ἥν ποτε ἐπόρθει, 24 καὶ ἐδόξαζον ἐν ἐμοὶ τὸν θεόν.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Galatians 1:6-10, There is No Other Gospel (The Study of Galatians)

     6 I marvel that you are so quickly removing yourself11 from the one who called12 you in the grace [of Christ]13 turning to a different gospel, 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are certain people who are stirring you up14 and are willing15 to transform16 the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel different from the gospel that was preached to you, let him be17 accursed18! 9 As we19 have stated before and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel different from what you received, let him be accursed!
     10 For now do I persuade20 people or God? Or do I seek to please21 people? If I were still pleasing people, then I would not be a slave22 of Christ23.


Paul continues to set up his defense against the one's who have accused him falsely.  Paul is willing to go to extreme measures to show what he thinks of the preaching of a different gospel in his churches.  Verse 8 is to not be taken lightly.  In Paul's mind, there is no room for the Jewish Law in the freedom found in our faith in Christ Jesus.

11 μετατίθεσθε (removing yourself)

or “turning yourself away”. This verb is in the “middle” which could mean that they were “removing for themselves” or “removing themselves”. From the context, the church members were turning themselves away from God (the one who called you...) and turning to a different gospel.

12 ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος (the one who called) 

“The one who called” is God.

13 [Χριστοῦ] (Christ) 

Christ is in brackets because it may not be original to Paul’s letter.

14 οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς (who are stirring you up) 

or “the ones who are stirring you up). ταράσσω really means “to cause movement by shaking or stirring”.  The verb is used in John 5:4a (KJV only) to describe how the water moved when the angel came down.  4 ἄγγελος γὰρ κατὰ καιρὸν κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ κολυμβήθρᾳ, καὶ ἐτάρασσε τὸ ὕδωρ (for an angel came down to the pool at a certain time (during an appointed time), and stirred up (troubled) the water... John 5:4a).  Grab your King James Version of the Bible for this verse as it is not original to the Gospel of John.  The oldest and best Greek manuscripts do not contain this verse.  It was added later by a copyist in order to explain why the people were around the pool.  Never the less, it helps us to understand the verb usage here in Galatians.

15 θέλοντες (are willing) 

or “ are wanting” or “are desiring”.

16 μεταστρέψαι (to transform)

Literally to change something so that the results are different. In this case, the “apostles” from Jerusalem wanted to change the true Gospel so that the churches in Galatia would change how they were believing and behaving in their christian lives. The “different” gospel stated that "one had to become a Jew before one could become a Christian" or, in other words, "following the Jewish law completed a Christian’s salvation".

17 ἔστω (let him be) 

The “to be” verb is in the imperative, which makes it a command. It could also be translated: “he must be cursed”.

18 ἀνάθεμα (accursed)

or “cursed”. It must also be stated here that it didn’t matter “who” was preaching the perverted gospel, he should be accursed. According to F.F. Bruce in The Epistle to the Galatians (The New International Greek Testament Commentary), “It is the message, not the messenger, that ultimately matters. The gospel preached by Paul is not the true gospel because it is Paul who preaches it; it is the true gospel because the risen Christ gave it to Paul to preach.” Pg. 83.

19 ”We” are probably the ones who are with Paul at the time of the letter writing, but it also states that he in not alone in his thinking on the subject. Thus, it adds a bit more authority to what he is saying in this passage to the Galatians.

20 πείθω (I persuade)

or “to convince”. It can be used in a sense of “curing favor”. In other words, does Paul want to show himself upright to people or God? Does he want people to like him, or God?

21 ἀρέσκειν (to please)

Paul did not wish to make people happy in what he did or in what he preached. He only wanted to please God. Paul may also be looking back on his time of persecuting the church. This is highly probable as he brings it up in verse 13. During that time, Paul would have certainly been pleasing “certain” people. In this case, certain people of the Jewish faith.

22 δοῦλος (a slave) 

or “a servant”. It must be emphasized here that a slave is a person who does his master’s every command.  Slave may seem to people as a harsh term to apply to Paul, but in the 1st century, slavery was condoned and was a normal lifestyle among the people throughout the Roman Empire.

23 If Paul is indeed referring to his former life of persecuting the church, then there would be no way for him to do the will of the risen Christ.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 1·6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρ ̓ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω· εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ ̓ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.
Γαλάτας 1·10 Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Galatians 1:1-5, Salutation (The Study of Galatians)

     1 Paul, an apostle1 commissioned not from men, nor by2 man, but by3 Jesus Christ4 and God the Father5 who raised him from the dead6, 2 and all the brothers who are with me to the churches of Galatia7, 3 grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 4 who gave himself for8 our sins, that he might rescue us from the present evil age9 according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever10, Amen.


This starts our study of Paul's letter to the Churches in Galatia.  This letter represents one of four letters that Paul wrote that contains significant theological truths.  The other three letters are Romans, 1Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians.  We will attempt to unlock the Greek in this letter and try to pull Paul's theology out in order for us to apply it today.

Paul wrote this letter in response to "missionaries" that had come down from the Jerusalem church and taught to the Churches in Galatia that they had to start following the Jewish law in order to "complete" their salvation.  In the process, they also made some accusations to the churches about Paul.  This letter is Paul's rebuttal. 

A few things about Paul: 1. He was a Pharisee Jew.  2 Greek was his native language.  3. Paul's "Bible" was the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament).  4. Paul grew up outside of Israel.  5. Paul received the Gospel directly from Jesus, in person, on Paul's journey to Damascus.

1 ἀπόστολος (an apostle)

An apostle is “one who is sent with a message”. Disciples are just students, but apostles are educated in the message and are sent out to tell that message to others. Although “apostle” was a normal term of anyone that was sent with a message, by the time of Paul’s writing, it had become a title for important people among the Christian churches. An apostle was “commissioned” to be sent out. In Paul’s case, he was commissioned by God and not by any man.

2 δι ̓ (by) 

or “through”.

3 διὰ (by) 

or “through”. Paul’s message was not derived by man’s understanding.  Paul’s message was given by Jesus Christ.

4 Χριστοῦ (Christ) 

“The anointed one”.

5 θεοῦ πατρὸς (God the Father)

Paul, being a Jew, would have never used the actual name of God, YHWH. Instead, he keeps with the Septuagint by using θεὸς (God) with the added “Father”. Also, much can be said about the prepositional phrase “by Jesus Christ and God the Father”. In Greek, when a preposition has two direct objects, it adds a sense of being one or being collective. There is also a reason that Jesus Christ appears first in this phrase. The risen Lord was the one who had appeared to Paul as he traveled to Damascus. Paul received the message that he was commissioned to preach from Jesus at that time. Paul emphasizes that the only way that Jesus could have commissioned him was by “God the Father raising him from the dead”.

6 ἐκ νεκρῶν (from the dead) 

“Dead” here is presented in the plural. Perhaps a better translation would be “from among the dead” or “from the dead ones”.

7 The letter would have gone to one church in the province and then passed on to the others. We know that is how Paul wanted it to be because he actually pens some of the letter himself and wants the church members to see it. (Galatians 6:11, Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί. -- See what big letters I wrote to you with my own hand. ) The letter would have been dictated under Paul’s direction except for the “big letters” that he wrote. It is most likely, that each church would have written a copy of the letter for local reference.

8 ὑπὲρ (for)

or “in behalf of”. It could be that Paul means that Jesus became “sin” and died as a replacement of our sins. It most likely means that Jesus became the “sacrifice” for our sins, thus in doing so, our sins are forgiven.

9 The “present evil age” is not necessarily the world in which the church members live, but probably represents the evil that is in the world. For the purpose of this letter, this would include the false teachings of the so- called “apostles” the came from the church in Jerusalem.

10 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (forever) 

Greek: “into the ages of ages”.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 1·1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος οὐκ ἀπ ̓ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι ̓ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν, 2 καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοὶ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας, 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ 4 τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, 5 ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ἀμήν.

Greek Class tonight on Galatians!

For those in the Jackson, Mississippi metro area, my Greek Studies Class will be at TurningPointe Church tonight at 7:00pm.  If you can't make it, I will be posting blogs on the class this week just like I do with the Study of Mark (which will pick back up after the Galatians class is over).


Friday, January 21, 2011

Galatians 1:15-16a, Paul's "revealing"

15 But when [God]1, who set me apart from my mother’s womb2 and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal3 his son in me, so that I might preach him among the gentiles... Galatians 1:15-16a


Here is the answer to the question that I posed in the last blog.  For those that are local to the Jackson, MS metro area, please join us at TurningPointe Church for our Greek Studies class in Galatians starting January 25th, at 7:00pm.  For directions or questions, please contact me at  Thanks!!!

1 [ὁ θεὸς] (God)

[ὁ θεὸς] is in brackets because it may not be original to the text. Original or not, God is the subject of the sentence whether implied or originally placed. I left it in if for no other reason than clarity.

2 ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου (who set me apart from my mother’s womb)

This passage shows Paul’s jewishness as he used a common phrase from the Old Testament here. In this case, he is paraphrasing from the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The phrase can mean either “since I was born” or “since before I was born”. It is probably the latter as that is how it is applied in the Old Testament.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

3 ἀποκαλύψαι (to reveal)

ἀποκαλύπτω (apocalypto) means “to reveal” or “to unveil”. The noun form of the verb is used in verse 12 (ἀποκάλυψις). ἀποκάλυψις is apocalypse in english and is also the name of our final book in the New Testament. It is traditionally translated as “revelation”, but it really means “the revealing”. God revealed his son in Paul; both outwardly, as Paul saw Jesus on his way to Damascus, and inwardly, as Paul was completely transformed as the Spirit of God filled him.

The Greek

15 Ὅτε δὲ εὐδόκησεν [ὁ θεὸς] ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου καὶ καλέσας διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ 16 ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί, ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Galatians 1:11-12, The "revealing" of Jesus Christ.

     11 For I make known to you, brothers, the gospel1 which was preached by me is not a product of man2 , 12 for I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me by3 the revealing4 of Jesus Christ.  Galatians 1:11-12

     Here is one more shameless plug for my upcoming Greek Studies class that starts on January 25, 2011 at TurningPointe Church. The enticing question is: Why did I translate the end of verse 12 as “but it came to me by the revealing of Jesus Christ” when most translations render it “but it came to me through a revelation of Jesus Christ”?

1 τὸ εὐαγγέλιον (gospel) 

or “the good news”.

2 κατὰ ἄνθρωπον (a product of man) 

Greek: “according to man”. In other words, the gospel that Paul was preaching was created by mankind not was it “thought up” by mankind.

3 δι ̓(by) 

or “through”.

4 δι ̓ ἀποκαλύψεως (through the revealing) 

or “through a revelation”

The Greek

11 Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ ̓ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον· 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτὸ οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην ἀλλὰ δι ̓ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Galatians 2:15-16, Justification by faith in Christ

     15 We, being Jewish by nature1 and not gentile sinners2, 16 know that a man is not justified3 by performing Jewish law4, but through faith in Jesus Christ5. Even we, being Jewish, believed6 in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by performing Jewish law, because no one7 will be justified by performing Jewish law. Galatians 2:15-16


Here is a snippet from my upcoming Greek Studies class on Paul’s letter to the Churches of Galatia. This is something that I started on my blog a few months ago, but since then, it was decided for me to teach the class at my Church, TurningPointe.

In this passage, Paul is telling the Galatian church members that doing “the works of the law” doesn’t complete their salvation as certain missionaries from the Jerusalem church was trying to get them to do. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that can make a person righteous.

This passage also shows why it is important for us to read many different translations of the Bible. See note 5 for more detail. Enjoy!

1 φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι (Jewish by nature)

“Jewish by nature” is referring the idea that Jews perform the Jewish law and “sinful gentiles” do not perform the Jewish law. It is very important to understand this in this passage.

2 ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί (gentile sinners) 

Greek: “sinners from the gentiles”. In other words, gentiles are considered “sinners” because they do not observe the Jewish law.

3 δικαιοῦται (justified) 

or “pronounced righteous”.

4 ἐξ ἔργων νόμου (by performing Jewish law)

Greek: “from the works of the law”. Works are not performed on their own, but are performed by people. Thus, “a man is not justified from the works of the law”, could be rendered: “a man is not pronounced righteous by doing the works of the law.” I’ve added Jewish to the translation in order to provide clarity on what “law” is being talked about in this passage.

5 διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (through faith in Jesus Christ)

Here is a perfect example of why it is important for serious students of the Bible to read more than one translation. Not everyone knows Koine Greek, but everyone can read different translations in order to gain clarity around the text. In this case, “through faith in Jesus Christ” can also be rendered “through the faith (or faithfulness) of Jesus Christ”. In Greek, “through faith in Jesus Christ” is an Objective Genitive view (NIV, NASU) while “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” is an Subjective Genitive view (KJV, NET). In other words, Jesus Christ is either the object of faith (faith in) or is subject of faith (faith of). If one only reads one translation, one may never know that it can be rendered two different ways and that those renderings are massive in that it changes how Paul could be interpreted. One should read multiple translations in order to see the differences and then study why there are differences in the translations.

So why “through faith in Jesus Christ”? There are two main reasons: 1. Paul explains himself in the following passage: “Even we (being Jewish and who once observed the Jewish law) believed (had faith) in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ”. In other words, it is performing faith in Jesus Christ and not performing Jewish law that justifies a person (Pauline Christology, Gordon Fee, Pages 223-226) 2. Nowhere else does Paul say that justification comes from Christ’s faithfulness. 

“For by grace, you are saved through faith (in Christ)”.  Ephesians 2:8

6 ἐπιστεύσαμεν (believed) 

or “had faith in”.

7 οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ (no one is justified) 

Greek: “all flesh is not justified”.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 2·15 Ἡμεῖς 1 καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί· 16 εἰδότες [δὲ] ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mark 6:6b-13, The Mission of the Twelve (The Study of Mark)

     6b And he was going around among the villages1 teaching. 7 And he summoned the twelve to himself and began2 to send them out two by two and gave3 them authority over unclean spirits. 8 And he instructed4 them that they should take nothing on their journey except only a staff5 ; no food6, no traveler’s bag7, and no money in their belts, 9 but to wear sandals8 and not wear two tunics9. 10 And he was saying to them, “Whenever you go into a house, remain there until you leave that town10 . 11 And if any place11 doesn’t receive you, nor listens12 to you, after leaving that place, shake off the dust under your feet13 as a testimony against them.1412 And after going out, they preached15 that everyone should repent16. 13 And they were casting out many demons, and were anointing many sick people with olive oil17 and were healing them.  Mark 6:6b-13

1 τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ (among the villages) 

Greek: “around the villages”. Jesus was making a circle around the neighboring villages.

2 ἤρξατο (began)

This indicates that this was the first among many missions that Jesus sent the disciples on. It shouldn’t be taken that this was the only mission that they were sent on.

3 ἐδίδου (gave)

Greek: “was giving”. According to Max Zerwick (A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Unabridged),the use of the imperfect here may indicate that each disciple received the authority individually. That would certainly make sense.

4 παρήγγειλεν (he instructed) 

or “he commanded”.

5 ῥάβδον (staff)

Walking stick. In both Matthew’s and Luke’s account, the staff was prohibited. It’s possible that it is meant that the the disciples were not to take an “extra” staff, but that is not what the different accounts say.

6 ἄρτον (food) 

Greek: “bread”.

7 πήραν (traveler’s bag) 

or “beggar’s bag. It was used to collect food and store other items as one was traveling.

8 σανδάλια (sandals)

In both Matthew’s and Luke’s account, the sandals were prohibited. It still remains an unresolved issue among scholars as to why the accounts in both Matthew and Luke are different than Mark’s. There are many explanations, but none are iron clad.

9 χιτῶνας (tunics)

or “shirts”. The tunic was worn next to the skin under a cloak. Think of it as a kind of undershirt.

10 ἕως ἂν ἐξέλθητε ἐκεῖθεν (until you leave that town)

Greek: “until you go out from there (place)”. In this instance, “place” is where the house resides, not the house itself. I’ve rendered the translation “until you leave that town” to add clarity to this.

11 ὃς ἂν τόπος (if any place) 

Greek: “whatever place”.

12 ἀκούσωσιν (listens)

or “hears”.

13 ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦν τὸν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν (shake the dust from under your feet)

According to R.T France, Jewish Rabbis would shake the dust from their feet when leaving Gentile territory in other to not carry its defilement with them. In this case, it could be stated that a place’s unbelief was a defilement to the ones that were preaching the message and had to be removed.

14 Variant Reading

For my readers who use the King James Version, the Textus Receptus adds the following to verse 11: ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται Σοδόμοις ἢ Γομόρροις ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως, ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ. (Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement, than for that city). It is a harmonization from Matthew 10:15 and is not original to Mark’s account.

15 ἐκήρυξαν (preached) 

or “proclaimed”.

16 μετανοῶσιν (should repent)

One must keep in mind that in this case, repenting in the Jewish world was to change one’s mind and return to Jewish law. The people that Jesus in trying to reach are the “sick” and not the “strong”. See my blog on Mark 2:13-17.

17 ἐλαίῳ (olive oil)

This is the only place in the Gospels that mentions the disciples anointing with olive oil. The practice of anointing sick people with olive oil was a common practice in 1st century Galilee.

The Greek

Καὶ περιῆγεν τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ διδάσκων. 7 Καὶ προσκαλεῖται τοὺς δώδεκα καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο καὶ ἐδίδου αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων, 8 καὶ παρήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς ἵνα μηδὲν αἴρωσιν εἰς ὁδὸν εἰ μὴ ῥάβδον μόνον, μὴ ἄρτον, μὴ πήραν, μὴ εἰς τὴν ζώνην χαλκόν, 9 ἀλλὰ ὑποδεδεμένους σανδάλια, καὶ μὴ ἐνδύσησθε δύο χιτῶνας. 10 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ὅπου ἐὰν εἰσέλθητε εἰς οἰκίαν, ἐκεῖ μένετε ἕως ἂν ἐξέλθητε ἐκεῖθεν. 11 καὶ ὃς ἂν τόπος μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν, ἐκπορευόμενοι ἐκεῖθεν ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦν τὸν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. 12 Καὶ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν ἵνα μετανοῶσιν, 13 καὶ δαιμόνια πολλὰ ἐξέβαλλον, καὶ ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ πολλοὺς ἀρρώστους καὶ ἐθεράπευον.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mark 6:1-6a, The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth (The Study of Mark)

     1 And he went out from there and goes into his hometown1 , and his disciples follow him. 2 And after the Sabbath came2, he began to teach in the Synagogue3, and many who heard him were astonished saying, “From where does this man get these things, and what wisdom is given to this man that even such miracles4 happen through his hands? 3 Is this not5 the carpenter6, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joses7, Judas8, and Simon?9 And are not10 his sisters here with us?” And they were offended11 by him12 . 4 And Jesus was saying to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and among his own household13.” 5 And he was not able to do any miracles there except after laying hands on a few sick people, he healed them. 6a And he was amazed14 because of their unbelief15 . Mark 6:1-6a


The most interesting thing about this passage is that Mark doesn’t bother to name the city of Nazareth. Mark’s more interested in the response of the people of Jesus’ hometown. Mark has already mentioned that Jesus was from Nazareth in 1:9. The readers and the ones being read to are expected to remember that.

1 πατρίδα αὐτοῦ (his hometown)

or “his homeland”. Within the context of the passage, it is obvious that Jesus was back in a town as opposed to a wider range of land (homeland) even though the town Nazareth is not mentioned by Mark. Also, “town” is implied because Jesus goes into the local Synagogue.

2 καὶ γενομένου σαββάτου (and after the Sabbath came) 

Greek: “and the Sabbath became”.

3 Jesus would have had to be invited in order to speak and teach in the Synagogue. This indicates that Jesus was known for his teaching in lake-side city of Capernaum. It may be that the leaders of the Synagogue were curious as to what they had heard about Jesus and wanted to hear his teaching first hand.

4 αἱ δυνάμεις τοιαῦται (such miracles)

or “such powers”. It is interesting that Jesus has not done any miracles yet in the passage. There are two explanations that could be used for this passage: (1) They (the ones who are speaking) are referring to the miracles that they have heard of Jesus doing in Capernaum, (2) They are referring to the few miracles that Mark refers to in verse 5. Since Mark doesn’t mention anything about Jesus doing miracles until verse 5, the former explanation is the most likely.

5 οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν (Is this not)

In Greek, when οὐ (οὐχ/not) is used with an indicative verb (ἐστιν/is), the use implies a “yes” answer from the ones who are being asked the question. The ones who asked this question knew that the answer would be “yes”.

6 ὁ τέκτων (the carpenter)

In the 1st century in Israel, a carpenter not only worked with wood, but would have been a stone mason as well. Most of the buildings would have been made of stone and wood.

7 Ἰωσῆτος (Joses) 

or possibly “Joseph”.

8 Ἰούδα (Judus) 

or “Judah” or “Jude”.

9 James, Joses, Judas, and Simon 

All of these names, along with the name of Jesus, were very common 
names in 1st century Israel.

10 οὐκ (not) 

See note 5.

11 ἐσκανδαλίζοντο (they were offended)

σκανδαλίζω can also mean “to cause to stumble” or “to cause to sin”. It can also mean “to be angry”. In context of this passage, the people were probably both offended and angry. Interesting enough, this is the verb form of the word σκάνδαλον (scandalon) which is where we get the english word “scandal”. In greek, σκάνδαλον means “a trap” or “a snare”. Today is means an event in which people can be offended about because it is considered morally wrong. I don’t think we can go as far as this in Mark 6:3, but it is obvious that the people of Nazareth didn’t think too highly of Jesus.

12 ἐν αὐτῷ (by him)

or “in him”. They were offended by Jesus’ teachings and what he was able to do.

13 ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ (among his own household)

Greek: “among his house”. In 3:21, Jesus’ family went to get him because they thought that Jesus was “out of his mind”. Jesus in indicating here that even his own family doesn’t honor him.

14 ἐθαύμαζεν (he was amazed)

or “he was marveling at”. This verb is in the imperfect which means that Jesus was continually marveling at the people of Nazareth. This shows just how human Jesus was. These people knew that Jesus could perform miracles, but they still didn’t want anything of it. Is there any doubt why Jesus was marveling at them?

15 διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν (because of their unbelief)

or “because of their faithlessness”. Here is the first time we see that Jesus can be limited in what he can do when people have little faith in him. The unbelief of the people was a direct influence on the miracles that Jesus was able to perform. To me, this is proof that miracles are a two-way street.

The Greek

Μάρκον 6·1 Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ. 2 καὶ γενομένου σαββάτου ἤρξατο διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ, καὶ πολλοὶ ἀκούοντες ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες· πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα, καὶ τίς ἡ σοφία ἡ δοθεῖσα τούτῳ, καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τοιαῦται διὰ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτοῦ γινόμεναι; 3 οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τέκτων, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας καὶ ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶ Σίμωνος; καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ ὧδε πρὸς ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ. 4 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ. 5 καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν, εἰ μὴ ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐθεράπευσεν. 6 καὶ ἐθαύμαζεν διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mark 5:35-43, Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus’ Garment Part 3 (The Study of Mark)

     35 While he was still speaking, they came from the home of the synagogue leader saying, “Your daughter died. Why still bother1 the teacher?” 36 But Jesus, overhearing and ignoring2 what3 they were saying, says to the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid4, only believe5.” 37 And he didn’t allow anyone to accompany him6 except Peter, James, and John, James’ brother. 38 And they go into the home of the synagogue leader, and he sees the uproar7 and much weeping and loud crying. 39 And coming in, he says to them, “Why are you in an uproar and weeping? The child has not died, but is sleeping8.” 40 And they were laughing9 at him. And he, after throwing all of them out10, takes along the father and mother of the child, and those with him, and they go into where the child was. 41 And after taking11 the child’s hand, he says to her, “Talitha Koum!” (Which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”) 42 And immediately, the little girl got up12 and was walking around: for she was twelve years old13. And they were immediately utterly astounded14. 43 And he gave them strict orders15 so that no one would know of this, and he said that something should be given to her to eat.  Mark 5:35-43


It is always amazing to me what can be found in the original Greek.  Although Mark doesn't mention anything about the "resurrection" here, I have come to believe that it is implied just by the play on words that Mark uses in verses 41 and 42.  Amazing!

1 σκύλλεις (bother) 

or “trouble”.

2 παρακούσας (overhearing and ignoring)

παρακούσας can mean both “overhearing” and “ignoring”. In this context, Jesus did both. The message was given to Jairus directly and Jesus overheard it, and at the same time, ignored what had been said.

3 τὸν λόγον (what) 

Greek: “the word”. The whole passage could be translated: “But Jesus, overhearing and ignoring the word they were saying”.

4 μὴ φοβοῦ (Don’t be afraid) 

or “Don’t fear”.

5 μόνον πίστευε (only believe) 

or “only have faith”.

6 μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ συνακολουθῆσαι (accompany him) 

Greek: “follow along with him”.

7 θόρυβον (uproar)

“Disorderly conduct and confusion from being loud”. Jewish tradition in the 1st century was to hire “professional mourners” when someone died. Since the child was near death, the family probably had gone ahead and hired the mourners. These “professional mourners” were probably the one’s carrying on in such a disorderly fashion.

8 ἀλλὰ καθεύδει (but is sleeping)

Jesus is using a figure of speech here. It is clear from the context that the child is dead. For a possible explanation of this figure of speech, see note 11.

9 κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ (they were laughing at him)

or “they were making fun of him”. It is not likely that the laughing was coming from Jairus’ family. Jairus’ family would have known why Jairus had gone to speak to Jesus. They would have been hopeful for a miracle for the little girl. The hired mourners, on the other hand, would not have paid the respect that Jesus deserved as they may not have known that Jairus had gone to meet with Jesus in hope of a miracle.

10 ἐκβαλὼν πάντας (after throwing all of them out)

Note the force in which Jesus uses against the people in the house. The text doesn’t say who was thrown out, but from the context of the passage, it can be assumed that the ones laughing at Jesus were the ones who were thrown out.

11 κρατήσας (after taking) 

Greek: “after grasping” or “after taking hold of”.

12 ἀνέστη (got up)

Greek: “rose up”. It must be stated that Mark uses a different word here for “get up” (ἀνίστημι) than the one he used in Jesus’ command of the little girl to get up (ἐγείρω). Although both verbs are common, there may be some word play going on. Both words mean “to rise up”, but ἀνίστημι is the verb form of the word ἀνάστασις which means “resurrection” or “rising”. There is no doubt that Jesus is using a figure of speech in verse 39 where he states that the child is “sleeping” as it is clear that she is dead from the context of the passage. It is possible that Mark is trying to show Jesus’ view of death in that he believes that there will be a “resurrection” of the dead at a later time. Jesus’ belief in the “resurrection” will be brought out in chapter 12.

13 ἦν γὰρ ἐτῶν δώδεκα (for she was twelve years old) 

Greek: “for she was twelve of years”.

14 καὶ ἐξέστησαν [εὐθὺς] ἐκστάσει μεγάλῃ (And they were immediately utterly astounded)

Greek: “And they were immediately astounded with great amazement”. ἐξέστησαν (astounded) means “to stand outside one’s self”. In other words, they were “blown away” at what had just happened.

15 καὶ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς πολλὰ (And he gave them strict orders) 

Greek: “and he ordered them much”.

The Greek

Μάρκον 5·35 Ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἔρχονται ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου λέγοντες ὅτι ἡ θυγάτηρ σου ἀπέθανεν· τί ἔτι σκύλλεις τὸν διδάσκαλον; 36 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς παρακούσας τὸν λόγον λαλούμενον λέγει τῷ ἀρχισυναγώγῳ· μὴ φοβοῦ, μόνον πίστευε. 37 καὶ οὐκ ἀφῆκεν οὐδένα μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ συνακολουθῆσαι εἰ μὴ τὸν Πέτρον καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰακώβου. 38 καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου, καὶ θεωρεῖ θόρυβον καὶ κλαίοντας καὶ ἀλαλάζοντας πολλά, 39 καὶ εἰσελθὼν λέγει αὐτοῖς· τί θορυβεῖσθε καὶ κλαίετε; τὸ παιδίον οὐκ ἀπέθανεν ἀλλὰ καθεύδει. 40 καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ. αὐτὸς δὲ ἐκβαλὼν πάντας παραλαμβάνει τὸν πατέρα τοῦ παιδίου καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ τοὺς μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰσπορεύεται ὅπου ἦν τὸ παιδίον. 41 καὶ κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ παιδίου λέγει αὐτῇ· ταλιθα κουμ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον· τὸ κοράσιον, σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε. 42 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀνέστη τὸ κοράσιον καὶ περιεπάτει· ἦν γὰρ ἐτῶν δώδεκα. καὶ ἐξέστησαν [εὐθὺς] ἐκστάσει μεγάλῃ. 43 καὶ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς πολλὰ ἵνα μηδεὶς γνοῖ τοῦτο, καὶ εἶπεν δοθῆναι αὐτῇ φαγεῖν.