Saturday, February 26, 2011

Galatians 4:21-5:1, The Allegory of Hagar and Sarah (The Study of Galatians)

     21 Tell me1, the ones who are wanting to be under the law2, do you not listen3 to the law4? 22 For it has been written that Abraham had two sons: one from a slave woman and one from a free woman. 23 But the one from the slave woman has been born according to the flesh5, but the one who was born from the free woman was through the promise. 24 These things are spoken figuratively6, for these women represent7 the two covenants: one covenant, on the one hand, is from the mountain of Sinai whose children were born into slavery. This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and to which represents8 Jerusalem now9, for she is a slave with her children10. 26 But, on the other hand, the Jerusalem above is free11, who is our mother12. 27 For it has been written,

“Rejoice, barren woman, who can bear no children, break forth and shout, who can not suffer birth pains, because there are many more children of the deserted woman than the one who has a husband.”13

     28 Now you, brothers, are children of the promise according to Isaac. 29 Now just as the one who was born according to the flesh14, at that time, persecuted the one born according to the spirit15; it is this same way even now16. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son: for the son of a slave woman will never inherit with the son of a free woman”17 . 31 For this reason, brothers, we are not the children of a slave woman, but the children of a free woman.
     1 With freedom Christ set us free18. Therefore, stand firm and do not be subject to the yoke19 of slavery again.


It is pretty astonishing that Paul would figuratively place the event that happened on Mount Sinai as being the slave Hagar.  Jews of time would have seen the event as a blessing that God would give his law to the Jewish people.  Paul says that the law enslaved the people so they are like Ishmael who was born from a slave woman.  Even though Paul used to be a Pharisee Jew, you can see from this passage just how little he thought of the Jewish law at the time of this letter.

1 Λέγετέ μοι (Tell me) Greek: “Speak to me”.

2 ὑπὸ νόμον (under the law) 

This could be translated “under subjection of the law”. If one was trying to be justified by performing the Jewish law, then one was subject to it.

3 ἀκούετε (listen) 

Greek: “hear”.

4 Paul is again setting up the Galatians. The Jewish law consisted of the first five books of the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament). Genesis does not necessarily contain any of the Jewish laws per se, but was still considered part of the law as a whole. Paul is using this to set up the following passages.

5 κατὰ σάρκα (according to the flesh)

In other words, Ishmael was was born naturally where as Isaac was a miracle. There was nothing special about the birth of Ishmael, but the miracle that became the birth of Isaac was promised.

6 ἀλληγορούμενα (are spoken figuratively)

Greek: “are spoken allegorically”. An allegory is a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

7 εἰσιν (represent)

Greek: “are”. The context of the passage demands “represent” here. Since Paul has said that the passage is an allegory, then we will use figurative language here as well.

8 συστοιχεῖ (represents) 

or “corresponds to”.

9 Jerusalem is the center of the Jewish religion. Although there was a Christian church in Jerusalem, most of the Jewish people were still following the Jewish law. Paul is using the transliterated Hebrew name for the city, Ἰερουσαλήμ instead of the Hellenized Ἱεροσόλυμα in Chapters 1 and 2.

10 The children of Israel are under the bondage of the Jewish law.

11 Paul is referring to a heavenly Jerusalem where the new covenant establishes freedom from the bondage of the Jewish law through faith in Jesus Christ.

12 μήτηρ ἡμῶν (our mother)

The free women is our mother. The “Jerusalem above” represents the free woman, Sarah.

13 Quoted from Isaiah 54:1. The barren woman represents the “Jerusalem above” or the “heavenly” Jerusalem. The religious center in which the ones who have faith in Christ belong.

14 See note 5

15 An echo of Genesis 21:9 where Ishmael is found mocking Isaac by Sarah.

16 Which is evident from what the false-brothers were doing. The churches of Galatia’s persecution came through the “forcing” of Jewish law on them.

17 Quoted from Genesis 21:10. In other words, the Jewish law has no place in the Christian churches.

18 It may be said that through the freedom of the free woman we are born free by the Spirit.

19 ζυγῷ (yoke)

A yoke is a bar or frame of wood by which two draft animals are joined at the head or neck in order to work together effectively in pulling a plow, harrow, or wagon.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 4·21 Λέγετέ μοι, οἱ ὑπὸ νόμον θέλοντες εἶναι, τὸν νόμον οὐκ ἀκούετε; 22 γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν, ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. 23 ἀλλ ̓ ὁ μὲν ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης κατὰ σάρκα γεγέννηται, ὁ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας δι ̓ ἐπαγγελίας. 24 ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα· αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι, μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινᾶ εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἁγάρ. 25 τὸ δὲ Ἁγὰρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ· συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἰερουσαλήμ, δουλεύει γὰρ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς. 26 ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐλευθέρα ἐστίν, ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ ἡμῶν· 27 γέγραπται γάρ·
εὐφράνθητι, στεῖρα ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα, ῥῆξον καὶ βόησον, ἡ οὐκ ὠδίνουσα·
ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον ἢ τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα.
28 ὑμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, κατὰ Ἰσαὰκ ἐπαγγελίας τέκνα ἐστέ. 29 ἀλλ ̓ ὥσπερ τότε ὁ κατὰ σάρκα γεννηθεὶς ἐδίωκεν τὸν κατὰ πνεῦμα, οὕτως καὶ νῦν. 30 ἀλλὰ τί λέγει ἡ γραφή; ἔκβαλε τὴν παιδίσκην καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς· οὐ γὰρ μὴ κληρονομήσει ὁ υἱὸς τῆς παιδίσκης μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. 31 διό, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Γαλάτας 5·1 Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Galatians 4:8-4:20, Paul’s Concern for the Galatians (The Study of Galatians)

     8 But at that time when you didn’t know God, you were slaves to those who by nature were not gods1. 9 But now, knowing God, but rather being known by God, how is it that you are still returning again to the weak and the poor elementary forces2 to which you wish to be a slave to once again? 10 You observe3 days, months, seasons4, and years5! 11 I am afraid for you that perhaps I have labored6 in vain for you.
     12 I beg of you brothers, become as I am, because I am even as you are7. You have done nothing wrong to me. 13 Now you know that because of a sickness in my body8 , I preached to you the gospel the first time9, 14 even though it was a trial to you10 because of my flesh, you didn’t despise11 me nor reject me, but you received me as an angel12 of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, where is your happiness?13 For I bear witness to you that if it was possible, you would have dug out14 your eyes and given them to me15. 16 Then have I become your enemy while speaking the truth16 to you?17 17 They18 are zealous19 for you, but it is not in a good way, but they are wanting to exclude you from the church, so that you may be zealous for them20 . 18 Now it is good to be zealous as long as it is in a good way. Always be zealous and not only in my presence with you.21 19 My children, whom I am again suffering labor pains until Christ may be formed in you22; 20 and I was wanting to be present with you now and to change the tone of my voice23, because I am at a loss24 about25 you.


Paul reminds the Galatians of how they were when he first came to them.  They were very happy at that time, but they have lost their happiness.

1 This is referring to when the gentiles of the churches of Galatia worshipped Greek and Roman gods. Those gods were neither gods nor alive. Since the Galatians worshipped them, they were slaves to them. They were not to be slaves for “false-gods”, but slaves for Christ. In 1:10, Paul refers to himself as “a slave of Christ”.

2 ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα (the weak and the poor elementary forces)

Paul is again lining up practicing the Jewish law with practicing paganism. This is an astonishing thing for a former Pharisee to say! The act of paganism was to worship gods who were not gods at all. Since the false-gods were weak and poor, they were not strong enough to help people and were not able to offer people any thing. In Paul’s understanding, the same is true for the law. Although Jews were under the law’s guidance, the were still enslaved to performing the law much like the Greeks were enslaved by worshipping false gods.

3 παρατηρεῖσθε (observe) 

Greek: “keep”.

4 καιροὺς (seasons) 

or “appointed times”.

5 In other words, the Galatians were keeping the calendar of the Jewish holy days just as they had keep the calendar of the pagans. The Jewish calendar was established around events that had happened during the history of the Jewish people while the pagan calendar centered around the movement of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. According to Paul, the two were “under the same roof” so to speak.

6 κεκοπίακα (have labored) 

or “have toiled”.

7 They are members of the faith in Christ Jesus. They are alike in this. Paul is changing his “tone” with the members of the churches that he established. One can feel the love in which Paul is writing to them. They are brothers in Christ.

8 δι ̓ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς (because of sickness in my body)

Greek: “because of a weakness of the flesh” We are not sure if this is the same “thorn in the flesh” of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, but whatever it was, it was something that the Galatians understood and apparently could see in Paul.

9 τὸ πρότερον (the first time) or “the former time”. This is referring to Paul’s first visit to the people
of Galatia.

10 καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν (even though it was a trail to you) 

Greek: “even your trial”. Whatever Paul’s sickness was, it must have been repulsive to the people of Galatia.

11 ἐξουθενήσατε (despise) 

or “despise something or someone because it or they held no value”.

12 ἄγγελον (angel) 

or “messenger”.

13 According to the context of the preceding passage, the Galatians were very happy to receive a messenger of God to their land. They treated Paul with respect even though he had an illness. Since the false-brothers had come, they had lost their happiness. This phrase could be render something like: “what happened to the happiness you had at the time I was here before?”

14 ἐξορύξαντες (you would have dug out)

Greek: “after digging out”. The verb means “to break something loose by digging or opening”. The verb is used in Mark 2:4 when the four men dug out the roof and lowered the paralytic down to Jesus.

15 Some scholars believe that this reference may indicate that Paul’s illness was some type of an eye infection or eye disease that the people of Galatia were so sorrowful over that they wished they could help in some way. More than likely, this phrase refers to just how much those people thought of Paul when he was with him. His love and influence on the Galatians prompted them to love him in return. In other words, they would have done anything for Paul if they could.

16 The truth is what Paul is preaching, not what the false-brothers were teaching.

17 In other words, how can they now thing of Paul as an enemy when they loved him so much that they would have done anything for him if they could have?

18 The false-brothers who have come up from Jerusalem caused all of the problems.

19 ζηλοῦσιν (zealous) 

To have a deep concern about.

20 The false-brothers were trying desperately to change the churches of Galatia so that the members would follow their way of thinking. By preaching to them a “transformed” gospel (1:7), they were alienating them from the “true” body of Christ much like the Jews did with the Gentiles. Following the Jewish law alienating the members of the churches of Galatia from the body of Christ.

21 This can apply today just as it applied to the Galatians then. It is good to be zealous over what you believe as long as what you believe is correct. If you are zealous over what you believe, then be zealous all the time and not just when you are in church or in the presence of others.

22 Paul is having to endure the process of converting his churches again to the body of Christ. He labored and toiled over them in vain the first time. Paul’s love for them is so great that he is willing to toil over them again. The vivid imagery of suffering labor pains shows just how much Paul is willing to endure to bring his members back to Christ. We can infer from the passage that since the Galatians are practicing the law, then they have lost Christ. Paul is willing to endure birth pains until they find him again (until Christ may be formed in you).

23 ἀλλάξαι τὴν φωνήν μου (to change the tone of my voice)

Greek: “to change my voice”. Paul realizes that his letter has “tough words” for the Galatians. He is trying to convey that if he were with them, they would see the love that he has for them and the concern he has for them. The letter is harsh, but the love behind the letter is pure.

24 ἀποροῦμαι (I am at a loss)

“To be in perplexity, with the implication of serious anxiety” Not only is Paul perplexed, he is suffering anxiety over the situation. This is something that Paul wants to correct as soon as he can.

25 ἐν (about) Greek: “in”.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 4·8 Ἀλλὰ τότε μὲν οὐκ εἰδότες θεὸν ἐδουλεύσατε τοῖς φύσει μὴ οὖσιν θεοῖς· 9 νῦν δὲ γνόντες θεόν, μᾶλλον δὲ γνωσθέντες ὑπὸ θεοῦ, πῶς ἐπιστρέφετε πάλιν ἐπὶ τὰ ἀσθενῆ καὶ πτωχὰ στοιχεῖα οἷς πάλιν ἄνωθεν δουλεύειν θέλετε; 10 ἡμέρας παρατηρεῖσθε καὶ μῆνας καὶ καιροὺς καὶ ἐνιαυτούς, 11 φοβοῦμαι ὑμᾶς μή πως εἰκῇ κεκοπίακα εἰς ὑμᾶς.
Γαλάτας 4·12 Γίνεσθε ὡς ἐγώ, ὅτι κἀγὼ ὡς ὑμεῖς, ἀδελφοί, δέομαι ὑμῶν. οὐδέν με ἠδικήσατε· 13 οἴδατε δὲ ὅτι δι ̓ ἀσθένειαν τῆς σαρκὸς εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν τὸ πρότερον, 14 καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, ἀλλὰ ὡς ἄγγελον θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν. 15 ποῦ οὖν ὁ μακαρισμὸς ὑμῶν; μαρτυρῶ γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι εἰ δυνατὸν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν ἐξορύξαντες ἐδώκατέ μοι. 16 ὥστε ἐχθρὸς ὑμῶν γέγονα ἀληθεύων ὑμῖν; 17 ζηλοῦσιν ὑμᾶς οὐ καλῶς, ἀλλὰ ἐκκλεῖσαι ὑμᾶς θέλουσιν, ἵνα αὐτοὺς ζηλοῦτε· 18 καλὸν δὲ ζηλοῦσθαι ἐν καλῷ πάντοτε καὶ μὴ μόνον ἐν τῷ παρεῖναί με πρὸς ὑμᾶς. 19 τέκνα μου, οὓς πάλιν ὠδίνω μέχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν· 20 ἤθελον δὲ παρεῖναι πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἄρτι καὶ ἀλλάξαι τὴν φωνήν μου, ὅτι ἀποροῦμαι ἐν ὑμῖν.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Galatians 3:21-4:7, Slaves and Sons (The Study of Galatians)

     21 Therefore, is the law against the promises [of God]1? May it never be! For if a law was given, one that was able to bring about life2, then righteousness was indeed from performing the law. 22 Now the Scripture3 imprisoned all things4 under sin5, so that the promise may be given to the ones who believe by faith in Jesus Christ.
     23 Now before faith6 came, we were being held prisoner under the law, being locked up until7 the faith that was about to be revealed8. 24 Therefore, the law had become our guardian9 until10 Christ11 so that we may be justified by faith; 25 and after the coming of faith12 , we are no longer under the guardian13.
     26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; 27 for as many as have been baptized14 in Christ Jesus, have put on Christ. 28 There is15 neither jew nor gentile, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female16: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s17, then you are Abraham’s descendant18, and heirs according to the promise.

Chapter 4

     1 Now I say, for as long as the heir19 is a minor20, he is no different from a slave, yet, he is21 the master22 of all things23, 2 but he is under guardians24 and stewards25 until a set time determined by his father.26 3 We are also like this; when we were minors, under the elemental spiritual forces of the world27, we were enslaved. 4 But when the completion of time28 came, God sent out his son29, being born30 from a woman, being born31 under the law32, 5 so that he may redeem33 the ones under the law, so that we may received the adoption as sons. 6 Now because you are sons, God sent out the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying “Abba, Father!347 Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if you are a son, you are also the heir through God.

1 [τοῦ θεοῦ] [of God] 

“of God” is in brackets as it may not be original to the text. Original or not, the promises are still God given.

2 ζῳοποιῆσαι (to bring about life) 

Greek: “to make life”. Jesus was able to bring about eternal life for all people, but one of the laws had the ability to do the same.

3 ἡ γραφὴ (Scripture)

or “the writings”. Here, Paul is referring to the written law.

4 All things referring to all people and the works that they performed.

5 In other words, since the law was brought about to cause transgressions, it enslaved everything under those transgressions. It was this act that would show people that they would alway sin. That reality leads a person to know that salvation only comes through God’s grace of mankind. Eternal life is a gift from God and is “graced” upon the ones who have faith in Christ.

6 Referring to the act of faith as opposed to performing the Jewish law. It is the New Covenant.

7 εἰς (until) 

or “into”.

8 ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (to be revealed) 

This is the infinitive verb form of the now where we get revelation from.

9 παιδαγωγὸς (guardian)

According to Louw & Nida: “In classical times, a παιδαγωγός was a man, usually a slave, whose task it was to conduct a boy to and from school and to supervise and direct his general conduct. He was not a teacher.”

10 εἰς (until) 

or “into”.

11 Christ here represents the New Covenant based on faith and not on performing the Jewish law.

12 See Note 6

13 See Note 9

14 εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε (have been baptized in Christ)

This could mean a couple of things; 1. It could refer to baptism in water or 2. it could refer to baptism in the Holy Spirit. Since it takes being baptized with the Holy Spirit to actually “put on Christ”, most likely this passage refers to receiving the Holy Spirit.

15 ἔνι (is) 

This is an emphatic form of the “to be” verb ἐστιν (is). Paul wants to make sure that his readers pay attention to what he is writing.

16 οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ (there is not male and female)

Notice change in the structure as opposed to Paul’s “neither/nor” construction. The construction can be found in Genesis 1:27c. I have placed the phrase in bold type.

ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς (he (God) made them male and female.)

17 Χριστοῦ (Christ’s) 

or “belong to Christ”. “You are in the possession of Christ”. In other words, you are owned by Christ.

18 σπέρμα (descendant) 

Greek: “seed”.

19 ὁ κληρονόμος (the heir) 

One who inherits his father’s estate.

20 νήπιός (minor)

A small child that old enough to not be an infant, but not old enough to have any responsibility.

21 ὤν (he is) 

Greek: “being”.

22 κύριος (master) 

or “lord”. In this case, the heir is the future master of his father’s household.

23 πάντων (of all things)

This refers to the things in which the heir will inherit from his father. Since he is the heir, he really owns everything that belong to his father now, but the responsibility has not been placed on him yet.

24 ἐπιτρόπους (guardians) 

or “tutors”.

25 οἰκονόμους (stewards) 

or “managers of households or estates”.

26 Under Roman law, a man can of age at 14, but his father still had say in the matter. A father would set a “fixed time” (τῆς προθεσμίας) in which the minor would be subject to tudors and household managers. Once the time was completed, the son was eligible to inherit.

27 ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (under the elemental spiritual forces of the world)

Early Greek writer Philo spoke about Greeks who revered the four elements: earth, water, air, fire. Paul is putting the Jewish law under this category as well.

28 Compares to the τῆς προθεσμίας (fixed time) in verse 2.

29 This represents the “high Christology” that Paul had in believing that the Son existed before he was sent.

30 γενόμενον (being born)

Greek: “becoming”.

31 See above note.

32 In order for Jesus to become a curse according to Jewish law, he had to be born a human who was subject to the Jewish law. Since Jesus was the only person to never break the law, it took crucifixion to make him a curse.

33 ἐξαγοράσῃ (may redeem) 

or “may buy out” or “may buy back”. In other words, Jesus bought us out of the curse of the law by becoming a curse.

34 αββα ὁ πατήρ (Abba Father!)

F.F. Bruce states, “When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’, it is the spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” The Epistle to the Galatians.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 3·21 ὁ οὖν νόμος κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν [τοῦ θεοῦ]; μὴ γένοιτο· εἰ γὰρ ἐδόθη νόμος ὁ δυνάμενος ζῳοποιῆσαι, ὄντως ἐκ νόμου ἂν ἦν ἡ δικαιοσύνη. 22 ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν ἡ γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν, ἵνα ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.
Γαλάτας 3·23 Πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, 24 ὥστε ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Χριστόν, ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως δικαιωθῶμεν· 25 ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς πίστεως οὐκέτι ὑπὸ παιδαγωγόν ἐσμεν. 26 Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 27 ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε. 28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 29 εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, ἄρα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα ἐστέ, κατ ̓ ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι. Γαλάτας 4·1 Λέγω δέ, ἐφ ̓ ὅσον χρόνον ὁ κληρονόμος νήπιός ἐστιν, οὐδὲν διαφέρει δούλου κύριος πάντων ὤν, 2 ἀλλὰ ὑπὸ ἐπιτρόπους ἐστὶν καὶ οἰκονόμους ἄχρι τῆς προθεσμίας τοῦ πατρός. 3 οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, ὅτε ἦμεν νήπιοι, ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἤμεθα δεδουλωμένοι· 4 ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον, 5 ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ, ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσίαν ἀπολάβωμεν. 6 Ὅτι δέ ἐστε υἱοί, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν κρᾶζον· αββα ὁ πατήρ. 7 ὥστε οὐκέτι εἶ δοῦλος ἀλλὰ υἱός· εἰ δὲ υἱός, καὶ κληρονόμος διὰ θεοῦ.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Galatians 3:15-20, The Law and the Promise (The Study of Galatians)

     15 Brothers, to take from a human analogy, I say1 : even if it is a man’s covenant2 that has been ratified3, no one can annul4 it or can add to5 it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and his descendant6. It7 does not say “and to descendants8” as in many people, but as in one person, “and to your descendant”, who is Christ9. 17 Now I say this; the law, which came10 after 430 years, does not cancel11 the covenant12 that had been established earlier by God13, in such a way as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance14 is based on15 the law, then it is no longer a promise; but God has bestowed16 it to Abraham through a promise.
     19 What is the purpose of the law then? It was added for the purpose17 of transgressions, having been ordered18 through angels19 by the hand of a mediator20, until the time when the descendant21 came to whom it22 has been promised. 20 Now the mediator is not of one party, but God is one.23 


As we learned in the Greek class, there are a few difficult passages to interpret in this.  The one thing that must be in view here is that Abraham's "descendant" was not the nation of Israel, but Jesus Christ himself.  Paul uses this to differentiate the law from the promise.

1 κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω (To take from a human analogy, I say)

Greek: “according to man, I say”. Paul is about to compare the spiritual things that he has been writing about to an everyday human event.

2 A covenant between two people.

3 or “put into effect”.

4 or “break” it or “reject” it.

5 Thus changing it.

6 σπέρματι αὐτοῦ (his descendent) 

Greek: “his seed” “Seed” referring to a descendent. Here, seed is in the singular.

7 “It” is Scripture.

8 τοῖς σπέρμασιν (to descendants)

Greek: “to seeds” in the plural. Paul is making a point that the promise was made to a singular descendant and not the plural descendants.

9 In other words, Christ is the descendant of Abraham spoken of in the Scriptures.

10 γεγονὼς (came) 

Greek: “having come”.

11 ἀκυροῖ (cancel) 

or “to refuse to recognize the force or power of something” Louw & Nida Lexicon.

12 The covenant between God and Abraham.

13 The most striking thing about the passage is where Paul places the words “law” and “covenant”. In Greek, if a writer wanted to draw attention to something or make something more important, they would put it at the beginning of the sentence or clause. In this case, “covenant” is at the beginning of the passage while “law” is at the end. “The law” is the actual subject of the sentence while “covenant” is the direct object of the verb “does not cancel”. I have highlighted the words below.

διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς νόμος οὐκ ἀκυροῖ

This indicates just how little Paul thought of the law as compared to the covenant between God and Abraham.

14 The inheritance is the salvation that is provided by Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ.

15 ἐκ (based on) 

Greek: “from”.

16 κεχάρισται (has bestowed) 

or “has graced”. In other words, it was given to Abraham by grace or 
favor. Abraham only had to believe God for it.

17 χάριν (for the purpose)

or “the bring them about and into the open”. Paul is saying that the law was put into effect in order to bring on “the conscious disobeying of definite commandments” (C.E.B. Cranford, “St. Paul and the Law”.

18 διαταγεὶς (having been ordered) 

or “having been given (detailed) instructions as to what must be done”.

19 “through angels” possibly means that the law was inferior to the promise because it was ordered through angels while the promise came directly from God. It is a very difficult passage as there are not many references to it in the NT. The closest reference occurs in Acts 7:38 where Stephen says

“οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ γενόμενος ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ μετὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ λαλοῦντος αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ ὄρει Σινᾶ καὶ τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν...”

“This one (Moses) is the one who was in the assembly in the desert with the angel who spoke to him on the mountain of Sinai and with our fathers...)”

Apparently, it was believed that angels had worked as representatives of God during the giving of the law to the people of Israel by way of Moses.

20 The mediator must be Moses as he was the mediator between God and Israel.

21 The “descendant” is Christ.

22 or the inheritance.

23 This may be the hardest passage to interpret in the whole discourse. The obvious, of course, is that it does take two parties in order for a mediator to mediate. With the promise to Abraham, there was no mediator as God promised it directly to Abraham. According to Paul, angels represented God when the law was presented to Moses to present it to the Israel. Moses acted as the mediator between the angels and the people of Israel. Perhaps what Paul is trying to do here is to show that the promise was far more important since it required no representatives and no mediator. Since God is one God, he didn’t require representatives or a mediator when he made his promise to Abraham. That would have placed the promise at a higher level than the law.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 3·15 Ἀδελφοί, κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω· ὅμως ἀνθρώπου κεκυρωμένην διαθήκην οὐδεὶς ἀθετεῖ ἢ ἐπιδιατάσσεται. 16 τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ ἐρρέθησαν αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ. οὐ λέγει· καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν, ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν ἀλλ ̓ ὡς ἐφ ̓ ἑνός· καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου, ὅς ἐστιν Χριστός. 17 τοῦτο δὲ λέγω· διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς νόμος οὐκ ἀκυροῖ εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. 18 εἰ γὰρ ἐκ νόμου ἡ κληρονομία, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἐπαγγελίας· τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ δι ̓ ἐπαγγελίας κεχάρισται ὁ θεός.
Γαλάτας 3·19 Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος; τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη, ἄχρις οὗ ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα ᾧ ἐπήγγελται, διαταγεὶς δι ̓ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου. 20 ὁ δὲ μεσίτης ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν, ὁ δὲ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Galatians 3:1-14, Law or Faith (The Study of Galatians)

     1 O,1 foolish Galatians, who bewitched2 you3 , to whom Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed4 before your eyes as having been crucified? 2 I only want to learn one thing from you; did you receive the Spirit by performing the works of the law or by hearing the faith5? 3 Are you so foolish in this manner that after beginning in the Spirit6, are you now finishing in the flesh7? 4 Have you endured so many things to no avail8? If indeed it even was to no avail9 . 5 Therefore, is the One who is supplying10 the Spirit to you and working powers in you by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith11 ? 6 Just as Abraham believed12 in God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness13.
     7 Then understand that the ones who have faith, these people are Abraham’s decedents14. 8 Now the Scripture, foreseeing that God justifies15 the gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel in advanced to Abraham that “In you, all nations will be blessed”16 . 9 So then, the ones who have faith are bless with Abraham, the faithful one. 10 For as many as are living by the works of the law17 are under a curse18, for it has been written that, “Cursed are all who don’t abide in all things which have been written in the book of the Law, to do them”19 . 11 But since no one is justified by the law in the presence of God, it is evident that “The just will live by faith”20 . 12 But the law is not based on21 faith, but “The one who does them, will live by them”22. 13 Christ redeemed23 us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it has been written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree2425, 14 so that the blessing of Abraham might come to the gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit by 


Paul now moves into why faith in Christ is superior to the Jewish law.  Christ became a curse to "buy us out" of the Jewish law!

1 Ὦ (O)

Not only is this the last letter of the Greek alphabet, it also can serve has introduction to direct speech. It also brings with it emotion or astonishment.

2 ἐβάσκανεν (bewitched)

According to BDAG, “to exert an evil influence through the eye”. With this in mind, it can somewhat translated “who has influenced you by giving you the evil eye?”

3 The Textus Receptus adds τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι (that you are not persuaded by the truth). It was probably added here because this praise appears in 5:7. It can be found in the KJV, but it is not original to this section of the letter.

4 προεγράφη (was vividly portrayed) 

The verb have two meanings: one, as portrayed in the translation, and two, it can also be translated “was written before hand”.

5 Represents the Gospel that was preached to them by Paul. The true Gospel of faith.

6 They had received the Spirit by believing that Jesus was crucified and had been raised from the dead on behalf of them and their sins. Receiving the Spirit here indicates that they had received entry into salvation only to be “bewitched” into believing that receiving the Spirit was not enough.

7 σαρκὶ (in the flesh)

Since Paul have been discussing circumcision, this praise points to that. In other words, Paul is asking the Galatians if becoming circumcised will complete their salvation.

8 εἰκῇ (to no avail)

or “in vain”. In other words, “Did you suffer all of these things for no reason?” Suffering here must refer to the things that the Galatians had endured because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Since no description has been give here, we must leave it at that.

9 See above note.

10 ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν (Therefore, is the One who is suppling)

This is referring to God.

11 In other words, “Are you (Galatians) being supplied the Spirt and working powers by God because you are performing the works of the law or because you have faith in Jesus that you heard from me (Paul)? Paul is trapping them the Galatians because they know that they received the Spirit and was working powers before they started performing the law. They received these things from God when they believed what they had heard from Paul.

12 ἐπίστευσεν (believed) 

or “had faith in”.

13 εἰς δικαιοσύνην (as righteousness) 

or “into righteousness”. Abraham became righteous because he believed what God told him.

14 υἱοί (decedents) 

Greek: “Sons”.

15 δικαιοῖ (justifies) 

or “pronounces righteous”.

16 ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη (In you, all nations will be blessed)

The quote is taken from Genesis 12:3.

17 Or "who are relying on the the works of the law".

18 κατάραν (curse)

This is not the same word that Paul used in verse 1:8-9. This word is use because it is used in the Septuagint in the following OT quote.

19 The quote is taken from Deuteronomy 27:26. 

The reason that Paul includes this quote is because no one is able to keep the law perfectly. Therefore, people who try to keep the law are cursed as a result of not being able to keep the law perfectly. In other words, they can’t help be to be cursed if they are only relying on keeping the law to be “pronounced righteous”.

20 The quote is taken from Habakkuk 2:4b.

21 ἐκ (based on)

Greek: “from”.

22 The quote is taken from Leviticus 18:5. Any blessing that can come from performing the law can only come by actually FULLY performing the law. In other words, you have to do them completely in order to live. In using this phrase, Paul may also be providing a gloss from Psalms 143:2b (142 in the Septuagint): ὅτι οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐνώπιόν σου πᾶς ζῶν (because all life is not justified before you) See Bruce’s The Epistle to the Galatians (The New International Greek Testament Commentary), pg 162. If Paul’s view is right that no one is justified before God, then trying to perform the works of the law will not justify a person either since that person can’t completely keep them.

23 ἐξηγόρασεν (redeemed) 

or “bought out” or “bought back”. In other words, Jesus bought us out
of the curse of the law by becoming a curse.

24 ξύλου (tree)

or “wood”. Not necessarily a tree, but something made of wood. It was used to refer to gallows in some instances in the OT. In the case of Jesus, it refers to a cross.

25 The quote is taken for Deuteronomy 21:23f. It was not the placing of Jesus on a tree (cross) that make him a curse. Being executed was what made his a curse because in that execution, he became the sacrifice for all sin.

Paul is also setting up for something that he is about to write in this letter in Chapter 4. Christ, being born under the law, was born under the curse of the law, but since he was able to completely keep the law, he fulfilled the law while setting all people free from the law.

26 The law was given to Jews, but not to Gentiles. The promise was given to Abraham before the law existed. The promise extents to all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, from Abraham.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 3·1 Ὦ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατ ̓ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος; 2 τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφ ̓ ὑμῶν· ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως; 3 οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε; 4 τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῇ; εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ. 5 ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν, ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;
Γαλάτας 3·6 Καθὼς Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην· 7 γινώσκετε ἄρα ὅτι οἱ ἐκ πίστεως, οὗτοι υἱοί εἰσιν Ἀβραάμ. 8 προϊδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γραφὴ ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοῖ τὰ ἔθνη ὁ θεός, προευηγγελίσατο τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ὅτι ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη· 9 ὥστε οἱ ἐκ πίστεως εὐλογοῦνται σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ. Γαλάτας 3·10 Ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν, ὑπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν· γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά. 11 ὅτι δὲ ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ θεῷ δῆλον, ὅτι ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται· 12 ὁ δὲ νόμος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ πίστεως, ἀλλ ̓ ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς. 13 Χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατάρας τοῦ νόμου γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα, ὅτι γέγραπται· ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου, 14 ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ γένηται ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πνεύματος λάβωμεν διὰ τῆς πίστεως.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Galatians 2:15-21, Jews, like Gentiles, are Saved by Faith (The Study of Galatians)

     15 We, being Jewish by nature1 and not from the sinful gentiles2, 16 know that a man is not justified3 by4 performing the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ5. Even we, being Jews, believed6 in Christ Jesus so that we may be justified from faith in Christ and not by performing the works of the law, because all people7 will not be justified by performing the works of the law. 17 But if we, while seeking to be justified in Christ, are even found to be ourselves sinners8, then is Christ a servant of sin9 ? May it never happen! 18 For if I rebuild the things which I destroyed10, I prove myself to be a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God11. I have been crucified together with Christ: 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me12. But the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and who gave himself for me. 21 I do not reject13 the grace of God; for if righteousness is obtained through the law, then Christ died for nothing.


Paul sets up a great defense of "faith in Christ" in this passage.  Verse 19 truly describes Paul's thoughts around the Jewish law.

1 φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι (Jewish by nature)

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

2 ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί (from the sinful gentiles)

The gentiles were sinful in the eyes of a Jew because they didn’t preform the Jewish law. Paul’s comparison here is to make sure that his readers know that he is a Jew who used to preform the works of the law.

3 οὐ δικαιοῦται (is not justified) 

or “pronounced righteous”. In other words, doing the Jewish law is not what saves a person.

4 ἐξ (by)

Greek: “from”. “from the works of the law”. Laws don’t do anything by themselves. People must preform the law in order for them to be of any effect.

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

or “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. No where else does Paul say that justification comes from Christ’s faithfulness.

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

Faith is something that a person does. Believing is an action. Paul put it up as an opposition to performing the law.

6 ἐπιστεύσαμεν (believed) 

or “had faith in”.

7 πᾶσα σάρξ (all people) 

Greek: “all flesh”.

8 αὐτοὶ ἁμαρτωλοί (ourselves sinners)

Paul is referring to being sinners under the Jewish law. In other words, if one is saved by his faith in Christ, and is not performing the Jewish law, then that person is a sinner according to the thought that the Jewish law must be performed. Paul is setting up the argument that if performing the Jewish law was the way to salvation, then there was no reason for Jesus to come and to give himself for our sins.

9 ἁμαρτίας διάκονος (a servant of sin)

or “a deacon of sin”. Paul is stating that the belief in performing the Jewish law when Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice thereby nullifying the need for Jewish law, makes Jesus someone who preaches that sinning is justified. In other words, if performing the law was the true way to righteousness and faith in Christ is not the way, then Jesus has become “a servant of sin” and is causing the ones who are trying to become justified in faith in Jesus to sin because they are not performing the Jewish Law. The Galatians would never believe that Jesus was causing any one to sin! Paul is trying to show just how silly (in his eyes) this notion of performing the Jewish law really is when a person has been freed by Christ.

10 In other words, “if I go back to the Jewish law, which I destroyed”.

11 It was Paul’s fanaticism in the Jewish law that lead him to his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul would have realized that his zeal for the Jewish law was making him sin! The sin of going against the exalted Lord and persecuting the church of God. In other words, the Jewish law caused Paul to sin. After meeting the Savior, Paul was forever changed. Thus, it was by the Jewish law that Paul finally died to the law as he realized that Christ was the fulfillment of the law. The ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all people. The only way for Paul to live for God, was to give up the law that caused him to sin in the first place.

12 Just as Christ fulfilled the law by becoming the ultimate sacrifice, Paul also has to die and be released from the law. Just as Christ was resurrected and now lives, Paul is also resurrected in Christ from dying to the law. Since Jesus released Paul from the law through his dying and resurrection, the living Christ is what gives Paul his life.

13 ἀθετῶ (reject) or “declare invalid”.

The Greek

15 Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι 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. 17 εἰ δὲ ζητοῦντες δικαιωθῆναι ἐν Χριστῷ εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμαρτωλοί, ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος; μὴ γένοιτο. 18 εἰ γὰρ ἃ κατέλυσα ταῦτα πάλιν οἰκοδομῶ, παραβάτην ἐμαυτὸν συνιστάνω. 19 ἐγὼ γὰρ διὰ νόμου νόμῳ ἀπέθανον, ἵνα θεῷ ζήσω. Χριστῷ συνεσταύρωμαι· 20 ζῶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἐγώ, ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός· ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκί, ἐν πίστει ζῶ τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ. 21 Οὐκ ἀθετῶ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ· εἰ γὰρ διὰ νόμου δικαιοσύνη, ἄρα Χριστὸς δωρεὰν ἀπέθανεν.