Monthly Archives: August 2012

Galatians 1:16-24

There’s a lot of commentary in this section.

16ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοὶ ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, εὐθέως οὐ προσανεθέμην σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι,

He revealed his son in me, so that I might evangelize him among the peoples, immediately Iot did not consult with flesh and blood. (flesh & blood = any person of flesh & blood)

Note: revised the translation here.  What I originally had was pretty much gibberish.  The verb <<προσανατὶθημὶ>> is a word that evolved.  Liddell & Scott cite NT usage as ‘to consult’, which is pretty much what it means here.

16 ut revelaret Filium suum in me, ut evangelizarem illum in gentibus, continuo non contuli cum carne et sanguine

17οὐδὲ ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα πρὸς τοὺς πρὸ ἐμοῦ ἀποστόλους, ἀλλὰ ἀπῆλθον εἰς Ἀραβίαν, καὶ πάλιν ὑπέστρεψα εἰς Δαμασκόν.

Nor did I come up to Jerusalem to the apostles for myself, but I went away towards Arabia, and again returned to Damascus.

This is intended to encompass both verses 16 & 17.  This is Paul’s version of his conversion.  One really significant aspect of this is how different his tale of conversion is from the story we get in Acts.  There is no “Road to Damascus”, no being struck blind, none of that.  Now, it’s not impossible that those things happened, but Paul’s silence on this has to make us question—at the least—the more famous version of the story.  Some modern commenters have gone on record as saying that the two stories simply do not match.  And, given Paul’s reluctance to underplay his personal experience and his flair for drama, I’d say we do have to question his silence on the topic.

However, he does agree with the story in Acts that it was a sudden (?) revelation, direct either from Jesus Christ (V 14) or God (V 16).  In addition, it is interesting to note that he says that he ‘returned’ to Damascus.  When was he there the first time?  Was he returning from destroying a group in a nearby town? (cf note to V 13)  Is it possible that Paul chose not to tell the whole story here because it would have been a bit redundant at this point?  He’s been to Galatia; he’s told his story.  Maybe he doesn’t feel like wasting ink and paper going over the story once more since it was well-known to his audience.

This is the sort of unanswerable argument that has kept large chunks of history going for millennia.  The lack of the story of the Road to Damascus in this version has often been used as ‘proof’ that Paul’s story was, essentially, different than the one in Acts.  But, if you discount some of the after-effects (being blind; being taught, etc) of Acts, there is, at root, nothing to contradict that story that he received his conversion in some sort of blinding—but in a rhetorical sense—moment of conversion.  He told us in 1:12 that he received his gospel in a ‘revelation of Jesus Christ’

17 neque ascendi Hierosolymam ad antecessores meos apostolos; sed abii in Arabiam et iterum reversus sum Damascum.

18Ἔπειτα μετὰ ἔτη τρία ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἱστορῆσαι Κηφᾶν, καὶ ἐπέμεινα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμέρας δεκαπέντε:

 Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Cephas (Peter), and remained with him fifteen days.

 Peter was an important figure in the early Assembly of Jerusalem.  This is an important corroboration of the gospels that were written later.  This was written over a decade before Mark, so it’s not like Paul was just repeating what had been handed down.  And, since there’s not a lot of reason to suspect that Mark, or perhaps any of the gospel writers with the possible exception of John, had any knowledge of Paul’s letters, it seems like we can be quite confident about the role of Peter in the formation of what would become Christianity because Paul and the gospels are independent sources.

 18 Deinde post annos tres, ascendi Hierosolymam videre Cepham et mansi apud eum diebus quindecim;

19ἕτερον δὲ τῶν ἀποστόλων οὐκ εἶδον, εἰ μὴ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου.

 I saw none of the other apostles except for James the brother of the lord.

 James, The Brother of Jesus !!!  This is, IMO, a very significant passage, especially in regard to the doctrine of the virgin birth.  Given the matter-of-fact way this is tossed out, as if it were common knowledge,  it seems to be a huge indication that the idea of the Virgin Birth had not been invented yet.  Otherwise, would Paul have brought this up the way he does?  This is why I’ve chosen to take these books chronologically, so that we can see better how the layers start to accumulate. 

 The notion of the virgin birth first shows up in Matthew, some 30 or more years after Paul wrote this letter.  And Matthew got the idea because he was reading from the Septuagint—commonly referred to as LXX, The Seventy—which was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scripture, the Old Testament.  In the Hebrew, the relevant passage of Isaiah tells us that a ‘young girl’ will give birth.  Which, given that marriage usually closely followed puberty, was fairly standard and hardly anything noteworthy.  However, the Greek renders the Hebrew as ‘παρθενος’, which is more properly translated into English as ‘maiden.’  This can mean ‘young girl’, but it has the added layer of virginity.  Hence, and Old Maid—a woman who has remained a virgin (well, presumably, in polite company, and maybe back in the day, at least it was assumed…) all her life.  She’s no longer young, but she’s still a maid, as in maiden. 

 Back to James.  This is interesting, and a bit tricky.  We are told that there are two apostles named James.  The first is commonly referred to by scholars as “James the Greater”.  He is the brother of John, and one of the sons of Zebedee, who become known as the “Sons of Thunder.”  The other is referred to by scholars as “James the Lesser”.

 Now, one again, to the best of my knowledge, we are not told in the gospels that the “other” James is the brother of Jesus.  We are told in Mark 6:3, that he has a brother James, and we are told that there were two apostles named James, but we are not specifically told that this brother of Jesus is the apostle referred to as James the Lesser.

 Now, given that Paul seems to indicate that the brother of Jesus was one of the more important figures in the Jerusalem assembly, it does seem odd  that James the Brother is almost completely overlooked in the gospels.  However, this is a topic to be picked up more extensively when discussing the gospels, especially the gospel of Mark.  In the meantime, suffice it to say that one modern scholar has suggested that James the Brother, had the right to be, or assumed the role of what he calls a ‘caliph’, being a close relative of the prophet.  As such, he took a very prominent role in the Jerusalem assembly.  There would be cultural precedent for this. 

 Given this, we have to acknowledge that, after the Diaspora, James almost completely faded from the picture.  How much of this was a deliberate attempt to diplace him in favour of the other apostles who later came to be the recognized leaders, and how much was due to the fact that James earlier role was simply forgotten after both his death and the destruction of Jerusalem, is a matter for serious discussion.

 19 alium autem apostolorum non vidi, nisi Iacobum fratrem Domini.

20ἃ δὲ γράφω ὑμῖν, ἰδοὺ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ὅτι οὐ ψεύδομαι.

However, what I write to you, behold before God, that I do not lie.

 Apparently he feels the need for an oath like this to convince us readers.  This seems reminiscent of his defensiveness in 1 Thess.

21ἔπειτα ἦλθον εἰς τὰ κλίματα τῆς Συρίας καὶ τῆς Κιλικίας.

Then I went to the region(s) of Syria and Cilicia.

21 Deinde veni in partes Syriae et Ciliciae.

22ἤμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας ταῖς ἐν Χριστῷ,

For we were unknown by face to the assemblies of Judea, those (assemblies) in Christ.

In his trips to Jerusalem, he’d only met with a few of the apostles, so he was unknown to the majority of believers.

22 Eram autem ignotus facie ecclesiis Iudaeae, quae sunt in Christo;

23μόνον δὲ ἀκούοντες ἦσαν ὅτι Ὁ διώκων ἡμᾶς ποτε νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν ἥν ποτε ἐπόρθει,

For they had only heard that “He who was persecuting then now evangelizes the faith which then he destroyed,”

23 tantum autem auditum habebant: “ Qui persequebatur nos aliquando, nunc evangelizat fidem, quam aliquando expugnabat ”,

24καὶ ἐδόξαζον ἐν ἐμοὶ τὸν θεόν.

And in me they glorified God.


Galatians 1:11-15

To continue with chapter 1

11 Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ’ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον:

For I make note to you, brothers, the gospel which was gospelized by me that (it) is not according to men.

Here we go: Paul is not getting this from men.  Is the implication that those other gospelizers did get theirs from men? 

 In 1 Thessalonians Paul was not shy to point out that he spoke with power and with with the (possibly holy) spirit.  Here, he goes even further, so one has to ask why it surfaces—so strongly and so insistently—here.  One may speculate that Paul’s authority was questioned; that people were, perhaps, asking: “Who is this guy?  Doesn’t he have nerve speaking like this?  He never met Jesus, but others did.  Why should we listen to him?”  Follow this down into the first part of Chapter 2.  We saw in 1 Thessalonians that Paul’s motives (possibly) were questioned, which led him into something of a defensive tone, but here it seems that maybe we’ve moved up to a whole other level.

11 Notum enim vobis facio, fratres, evangelium, quod evangelizatum est a me, quia non est secundum hominem;

12οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό, οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην, ἀλλὰ δι’ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

For neither did I receive this self-same thing  from men, nor did I learn it, but it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

 This makes it impossible to argue with both Paul’s motives and his message, since they come directly from God.  He’s implying that he’s got what one of my history profs called ‘a hotline to the deity.’  He will stress this again—and again—as we go along.

 Remember the part about “a revelation from Jesus Christ” when we get to 1:16-17.

 12 neque enim ego ab homine accepi illud neque didici sed per revelationem Iesu Christi.

13Ἠκούσατε γὰρ τὴν ἐμὴν ἀναστροφήν ποτε ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ, ὅτι καθ’ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐπόρθουν αὐτήν,

 For you have heard mine related when in the Judaizing, the according to the tradition I put the assembly of God to flight and I destroyed it.

Paul the persecuter.  This certainly agrees with what we are told in Acts, so it’s probably true.  And it sounds like real ‘trials’, which, with what he was telling the Thessalonians, indicates that there were trials or persecution of some degree.  “Destroyed” is, obviously, a strong word.  This seems to indicate something beyond harassment.  How much further?  And if he literally destroyed the assembly of God, does this mean, perhaps, that he eradicated one complete group, like the one in Damascus?  Or, perhaps, one outside Damascus?  However: this is pure speculation on my part.  It becomes very enticing to start to fill in the blanks, the holes in the narrative. It’s fun, but it can lead to some really whacky ideas.

13 Audistis enim conversationem meam aliquando in Iudaismo, quoniam supra modum persequebar ecclesiam Dei et expugnabam illam;

14καὶ προέκοπτον ἐν τῷ Ἰουδαϊσμῷ ὑπὲρ πολλοὺς συνηλικιώτας ἐν τῷ γένει μου, περισσοτέρως ζηλωτὴς ὑπάρχων τῶν πατρικῶν μου παραδόσεων.

And I came to the fore in Judaism among many contemporaries in my generation, being extremely zealous of the traditions of my ancestors handed over.

Paul’s roots and heritage.  It is extremely interesting that he tells us about himself to this extent.  In this, he is unusual for ancient authors, who very often say almost nothing of themselves, their life, or their experiences.  Assuming that we can believe this, it’s very revealing.

14 et proficiebam in Iudaismo supra multos coaetaneos in genere meo, abundantius aemulator exsistens paternarum mearum traditionum.

15ὅτε δὲ εὐδόκησεν [ὁ θεὸς] ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου καὶ καλέσας διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ

But when [ God ]  was pleased, being the one separating summoning*  separating** me from my mother’s womb, and calling through his grace.

Separated Summoning  “Separating me from my mother’s womb.”  Here we have a second foreshadow of the Predestination debate.  Does anyone remember the first? It was in 1 Thess, but I’ve forgotten where.

*Updated based on feedback.  My apologies for misleading.

**Actually, I was right the first time.  See comments.

15 Cum autem placuit Deo, qui me segregavit de utero matris meae et vocavit per gratiam suam,

Summary Galatians 1:1-24

Here we have a bunch of topics.  The major themes are:

  • God the Father, implies we are all ‘children of God’
  • Lord Jesus Christ,  ‘christ’ = the messiah
  • χάρις vs ‘gratia’ vs grace
  • Jesus given for our sins
  • There is another gospel!!! Or perhaps more than one
  • Angel from the sky.   When did ‘sky’ in both Latin and Greek become ‘heaven’?
  • Anathema sit!  Let him preaching another gospel be cursed
  • The person actually writing what Paul has ‘written’ was, possibly, an Athenian.  Did not mention this, but, overall, the Greek has a more sophisticated feel than the Greek of 1 Thessalonians.  One can tell this because the are many more difficult passages.
  • Paul’s gospel is not according to men. This picks up on and amplifies Paul’s contention in 1 Thess that he preached with power.  Serves to assert that he is someone, even though he had never met Jesus
  • Paul describes himself as a persecutor of the church
  • Paul’s personal account of his conversion; it doesn’t exactly match the story of the Road to Damascus so famous from the Acts of the Apostles
  • Paul’s personal history; he was a Pharisee, and one of the most zealous Jews of his generation
  • He was separated summoned* separated** by God for his role, ‘from his mother’s womb’; foreshadowing of Predestination
  • It was God’s intent that he preach to the Gentiles; revealed to him, no doubt, by God
  • Independent corroboration that Peter was, indeed, a leader of the Apostles; at least, after Jesus’ death
  • JAMES THE BROTHER OF THE LORD !!! and the implications of this statement on the doctrine of the virgin birth
  • Paul was personally unknown to the majority of the Jerusalem Assembly; not surprising if Paul was out traveling for the past 14 years–as we will find out in Chapter 2.

*Updated per comment on post

** Changed back to original translation

Galatians: Chapter 1:1-10

This is generally considered the second oldest of Paul’s genuine letters.  Galatians, to me, represents something of a new step for Paul, because this one is primarily a doctrinal letter,

Some of the tensions that are hinted at in 1 Thessalonians–especially the idea of other gospels–have bubbled closer to the surface, if they haven’t overspilled.  In particular, the tensions with the Assembly of Jerusalem, led by James, brother of the lord, as Paul casually calls him, have become more strained.  One gets the sense that Paul. A certain chunk of 1 Thess was full of what sounds like Paul being defensive and trying to justify himself; here, he has gone on the offensive.  He’s taking it to James and Peter.

Of particular interest is Paul’s story of his conversion.  We all “know” about the road to Damascus and the blinding light and all of that.  Odd that Paul mentions none of this.  Jesus came to him as a revelation (apocalypse, in Greek) from God, but a lot–make that most–of the familiar details are absent.  Why?

One possible answer is that these details were too well known to need repeating.  Another, simpler, answer is that Luke made them up when he wrote Acts.

Another interesting bit comes at the end of Chapter 1 and into Chapter 2.  This section describes what has been called the Synod of Jerusalem; an absolutely, completely anachronistic term meant to tie the discussions between Paul and James as the precursor of, and similar to, the Synods and Councils that were held later, especially after Constantine converted and legalized Christianity after 312. but calling this a ‘synod’ is every bit as an achronistic as calling the Assembly (perhaps ‘assembly’ is more accurate) of Jerusalam, or Galatia, or Thessalonika a ‘church’.  It completely warps the reality of the 50s CE with its glacial overburden of accumulated meaning.

The issue at the heart of the discussions between Paul and James was whether Gentiles–non-Jews–had to become Jews before they could become followers of Jesus.  James said yes; Paul said no.  Paul, eventually, won.

One other point about Galatians, and 1 Thessalonians, and Philippians, is that they are some of  the only pieces of proto-Christian writing that were written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent Diaspora of Jews that occurred in the revolt described by Josephus.  1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans probably fall into the same category, but it’s not as certain. Most scholars take this position, but the alternative is easily possible. It’s also to be noted that these six letters, and the letter to Philemon, are the only letters that scholars confidently ascribe to Paul himself.  The others were likely written by his followers, like Timothy and Titus.

If you don’t believe this, try this test.  I have been a lector in my church, and have read any number of passages from the authentic letters, especially 1 & 2  Corinthians, and Romans.  I suggest you read sections–at random–out loud. Then read something from Timothy. The syntax of the authentic letters is tortured in English, and the Greek is very stylized.  Timothy? Ephesians?  Not so much. They read much, much more easily than the 7 authentic letters.

Meant to incude this in a previous paragraph, but the writing moved on, and now it doesn’t fit.  The authentic letters were also mostly written before the death of James, brother of Jesus, also known as James the Just.  The standard date for his martyrdom is 64 CE.

Enough of my blather. Let’s listen to Paul. He’s much more entertaing.

1 Παῦλος ἀπό.στολος, οὐκ ἀπ’ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι’ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Paul, an apostle neither from men, or by men, but through Jesus Messiah

Here we have our first bit of doctrine.  He specifically calls Jesus the “Christ”.  In Greek, this literally means ‘anointed one’, which is more or less the translation of  “messiah” in Hebrew or Aramaic, whichever it is.  Already, apparently, the idea of Jesus the Christ had become a foundation stone of Christian belief.  We saw this in 1 Thessalonians.

καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν

and by God the father who awakened him (Jesus) from the dead,

 God the Father, which had become a fairly general belief among Jews.  But note: Jesus did not rise from the dead.  Rather, God raised Jesus.  In the second clause, the “him” is in the accusative case, which denotes a direct object.  So God did the raising; Jesus was raised.

If God is our father, then are we are all ‘sons of God’?  This is neither a rhetorical question, nor a point of logic.  It has implications for the application of the term to Jesus, which would, otherwise, somehow set him apart.  Achilles was the son of (a) god(dess), and Herakles was the son of (a) god, and Alexander  The Great claimed to be a ‘son of (a) god’ in his propaganda.  Now, in Greek, “son of a god” and “son of god” (or “son of God”, for that matter) would both be << ὑιος θεου >>.  As such, any distinction between ‘son of god/son of a god’comes only from the way it is translated into English.  Also used in 1 Thess, 1:1—missed it there.

 Also, Jesus did not ‘rise’. He was ‘raised’.  This, potentially, has huge implications for the question of Jesus’ divinity.  Here is a great example of what we “know” about Christianity.  Of course Jesus was divine; we knew that going in, and the matter was never questioned.  However, this was not at all true.  It was not until the gospel of John, written perhaps 40-50 years after this letter, that we get an unambiguous statement of Jesus as the co-equal of God The Father (=GTF).  In fact, the nature of Jesus led to a number of heresies, such as Arianism, which taught that Jesus was a lesser god than God The Father.

 The debates about who, exactly, Jesus was, and what the implications of this raged well into the 5th Century CE. 

So, was Jesus considered divine?  As we will see in Mark, the answer to this question is not completely conclusive.  I mention this here as something of a foreshadow of the discussion that will take place in Mark.  Remember: this was written a decade–or more like two–before Mark; and since Mark is, at the least,  a bit ambiguous about the divinity of Jesus, we can note that this may not have been a settled issue at the time of Paul’s writing.  

So, if Jesus ‘was raised’, this could be seen as indicating that Paul did not see Jesus as a being that was equal to, co-eternal with, or identical with GTF.  This will become especially interesting when we get to Mark’s gospel.

A final note.  The word that I have been translating as ‘raised’ could almost be transliterated into English as ‘energized,.

2 καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοί, ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας

and all those brothers with me, to the asembly of the Galatians(,)

‘Galatia’ is singular; ergo, it is the region, not the people, who would be pluralized.  Given the way the cases are juggled, it is difficult to get the Greek and English to line up.

3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

greetings to you, and the from God the father and our lord Jesus Christ

God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Implications of Jesus’ superior status, but it does seem to imply some sort of division or distinction between GTF and Jesus, does it not?

Lord Jesus Christ.  As noted in 1 Thessalonians, the use of “lord” has divine implications.  This is more or less translated from Hebrew as ‘adonnai,’ which is a common invocation in Hebrew-language prayers. If you’ve ever spent a Friday eveing in Temple, or heard someone light the menorrah, you’ve heard the word.  As such, does this not contradict, or weigh against my contention in V 2?  Not necessarily.  Paul has no doubt, and leaves no doubt in his readers, that Jesus was The Christ.  As such, he certainly could have had some divine characteristics.  The question is, was Jesus divine, or was The Christ divine?  This is a big question throughout the Pauline corpus, and much of the NT.

 Should have (at least) mentioned this prior, but here is a pretty fundamental situation when the Greek and the Latin do not line up especially well.  The Greek ‘χάρις’ is rendered by the Latin ‘gratia’χάρις’ is the root of ‘charity’, but it also has the sense of ‘thanks’ as in ‘eu-charist’ = ‘good thanks‘.  ‘Gratiais the root of gracias’ or ‘grazie’, or ‘thanks’ as they have come down in Spanish or Italian, which is why St Jerome chose to use it.  But ‘gratia‘ is also the root for ‘gratis’ in English, which means ‘free’, as in, ‘no cost’, which is also the base meaning in Latin.  This comes through if you think of ‘gracias’ as meaning, ‘it came at no cost to me’, or, ‘no problem’.

Of course, ‘gratia’ is also the root of the English ‘grace’.  This latter term has become loaded down with huge theological implications in the intervening millennia.  And the fact that the Western Chuch worked from the Latin word, with its meaning of ‘at no cost’ had a major impact on the Western doctrine of grace as something that was a free gift of God.  Augustine and Luther after him put a lot of emphasis on this ‘free’ aspect of  grace.    Here, in both Latin and Greek, it more simply means ‘thanks’ .

3 gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre nostro et Domino Iesu Christo,

4 τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς

(Jesus being) the one having given himself over (for) our sins, so that he may rescue us from the evil age that is the one standing ( = current age), according to the will of our God and father.

Our sins.  Christ was given over for our sins.  In what way?  And the ‘current evil age’ is a concept that will be used in the gospels as well.

 Will of god.

(ὑπὲρ + gen = above & away from ) 

Given himself for our sins. We touched on this in 1 Thess; it still hasn’t been explained.  This lack of explanation may imply that the idea was so basic and/or central, that Paul did not feel the need to explain what he meant.

5 ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων: ἀμήν.

To whom the glory (be) forever and ever, amen.

 Simply not really possible to give a more literal translation of αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.  “Through the aeons of the aeons”, but that’s pretty much gibberish.

5 cui gloria in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον,

I marvel that so quickly you have been turned from the calling you in the grace [of Christ] toward another gospel.

Another gospel !!!

 This is very interesting, and very serious.  What is this ‘other’ gospel?  Who’s teaching it?  What does it teach?  Other teachings were implicit in 1 Thess; it’s explicit here.

It would be really, really nice to have a more exact idea of the time between 1 Thess and Galatians.  Apparently, enough time that the message of Jesus was already splitting signficantly.

 6 Miror quod tam cito transferimini ab eo, qui vos vocavit in gratia Christi, in aliud evangelium;

7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο: εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

There is no other.  If not some (others) there are being the ones disturbing you and desiring to turn the gospel of the Christ.

Nice rhetorical touch. Paul teaches the gospel of Christ. Those other guys, by implication, teach something else.

7 quod non est aliud, nisi sunt aliqui, qui vos conturbant et volunt convertere evangelium Christi.

8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρ’ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.

But also if we, or an angel from the sky (heaven—singular) gospelize [you]  opposed ( lit = ‘beside ) to that which we have gospelized (evangelized) you, let him be anathema

An angel from the sky.  This hearkens back to 1 Thess 4:16, when the lord will come down from the sky, which has pretty much become ‘heaven’ in translations.

Anathema is a direct transliteration of ‘ἀνάθεμα’.  It became the technical term for casting someone, or their doctrine, into the realm of heresy.  “If someone should believe….let him be ‘anathema’ (Latin: ‘anathema sit’.  It’s a direct transliteration into Latin, and again into English. 

 Lidelll & Scott will tell you that the meaning is ‘cursed’; certainly, this is more or less the base meaning, but here’s where we get into some conceptial distinctions.  I’ve recently seen this translated as ‘damned’, but this is too overtly Christian for the context.  “Damned’  means ‘damned to Hell.  So if you don’t have a  hell,  you can’t really be ‘damned’.  Maybe there was a Hell, but I don’t think so.

 Here, ‘ἀνάθεμα ἔστω’ = ‘anathema sit’;  The verb ‘to be’ is what is called iussive subjunctive in Latin.  I use the Latin term because it really captures the element of command, which is what ‘let him be anathema actually is.

8 Sed licet nos aut angelus de caelo evangelizet vobis praeterquam quod evangelizavimus vobis, anathema sit!

9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν, καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω, εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ’ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.

As I said, and I say again now, if someone evangelizes you beside the one you accepted from, let him be cursed.

So important it bears repeating.  But the whole idea of another gospel opens up a can of worms. The existence of another version of the Christ story was implied in 1 Thessalonians; apparently, by the time he wrote this letter, a year or two later, the problem had grown.  Or, since Galatia is closer to Judea (part of modern Turkey), perhaps the situation there was simply more acute?

9 Sicut praediximus, et nunc iterum dico: Si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeter id, quod accepistis, anathema sit!

10Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην.

For now do I persuade men or god? Or do I seek to please men?  If I still pleased men, the slave of Christ I would not be!

Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon, which is pretty much the definitive source for Classical Greek, indicates that << ἤμην >> can be one of two things. 1) the imperfect for of the verb εμαι, which = ‘to linger’, to tarry; or 2) a rare form, used mainly in Attica (Athens) of the imperfect tense of eimi, the standard verb for ‘to be’.  Here, it is this rare Attic form which was used Classical Greek literature.  Had this rare form become commonplace by the time this letter was written?  Or, is it possible that the person who actually, physically wrote (as opposed to composed) the letter was from Athens?  Recall in 1 Thessalonians that Paul remained in Athens alone for some time.  “Alone” probably doesn’t mean solitary, but without his usual band of assistances, such as Timothy. [ I have no idea what the scholarly opinion is on this. ] It is very likely that Paul dictated his letters; this was a common, almost standard practice.  This would be, IMO, especially likely since Paul may have been less than perfectly fluent in writing Greek. 

The topic of Paul’s use of a secretary will come up again in conjunction with Philippians, and again with 1 Corinthians.  There are passages of Philippians that are borderline gibberish, which, IMO, would perhaps indicate that Paul wrote the letter—to some degree at least—by himself.  Philippians was composed while Paul was in prison.  Then we get 1 Corinthians, which shows a level of polish and style far beyond what we find here in Galatians.

The point is that here, Paul’s secretary was most likely an Athenian, or, at least, a Jew living in Athens.  Or with some connection to Athens.

1 Thessalonians Chapter 5

1Περὶ δὲ τῶν χρόνων καὶ τῶν καιρῶν, ἀδελφοί, οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ὑμῖν γράφεσθαι,

About these times and intervals, brothers, there is no need that it be written you.  (it is not necessary to write you.)  

These intervals?  Which?  The current times?  Or the “end times”, that are referred to in 4:13-17?

1 De temporibus autem et momentis, fratres, non indigetis, ut scribatur vobis;

2αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀκριβῶς οἴδατε ὅτι ἡμέρα κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν νυκτὶ οὕτως ἔρχεται.

For you definitely know the day of the lord as a thief in the night in this way comes (comes thus,  as a thief in the night)

2 ipsi enim diligenter scitis quia dies Domini, sicut fur in nocte, ita veniet.

3ὅταν λέγωσιν, Εἰρήνη καὶ ἀσφάλεια, τότε αἰφνίδιος αὐτοῖς ἐφίσταται ὄλεθρος ὥσπερ ἡ ὠδὶν τῇ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσιν.

When they say, “peace and security”, then sudden destruction comes over them as the pangs of childbirth, and there is no escaping.

We have slipped into apocalyptic imagery again.  The contrast between the expected peace, and the actual trials, is picked up again in the “Little Apocalypse” of Matthew 24, as well as later, in the Apocalypse of John.  Part of this was to assure the audience that their trials, referred to above, are part of the plan.  So don’t despair!  

3 Cum enim dixerint: “ Pax et securitas ”, tunc repentinus eis superveniet interitus, sicut dolor in utero habenti, et non effugient.

4ὑμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σκότει, ἵνα ἡ ἡμέρα ὑμᾶς ὡς κλέπτης καταλάβῃ,

you, too, brothers, don’t be in darkness, so that the day (of the lord) does not catch you like a thief,

Verses 4-8 comprise an extended metaphor with the image of light/dark, and night/day, ending up with sober/inebriated.  The good followers of Jesus are in the light/day, and sober.  They will be saved from….(see V-9 for the cliffhanger!)  

Using the metaphor of the contrast between night/dark vs day/light to indicate the distinction between evil/good pre-dates Christianity.  Offhand, my first experience with it would be in Zoroastrianism, the dualist belief in which Principals of Light (Ahura, or Ahuramazda) is engaged in existential combat with the principal of Darkness (Ahriman). Plato uses the metaphor to describe the upward journey to attain The One.  It remains fundamental, perhaps a species-memory of the nightly predators that lurked just outside the ring of light provided by the campfire.

4 Vos autem, fratres, non estis in tenebris, ut vos dies ille tamquam fur comprehendat;

5πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς υἱοὶ φωτός ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ἡμέρας. οὐκ ἐσμὲν νυκτὸς οὐδὲ σκότους:

for you are all be sons of the light and children of the day. We are not (sons of) the night or darkness.

5 omnes enim vos filii lucis estis et filii diei. Non sumus noctis neque tenebrarum;

6ἄρα οὖν μὴ καθεύδωμεν ὡς οἱ λοιποί, ἀλλὰ γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμεν.

Then let us not sleep as the rest, but let us watch and let us be sober.

6 igitur non dormiamus sicut ceteri, sed vigilemus et sobrii simus.

7οἱ γὰρ καθεύδοντες νυκτὸς καθεύδουσιν, καὶ οἱ μεθυσκόμενοι νυκτὸς μεθύουσιν:

For those sleeping, sleep by night, and those who are inebriated, let them be inebriated by night.

7 Qui enim dormiunt, nocte dormiunt; et, qui ebrii sunt, nocte inebriantur.

8ἡμεῖς δὲ ἡμέρας ὄντες νήφωμεν, ἐνδυσάμενοι θώρακα πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ περικεφαλαίαν ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας:

We of the day, on the other hand, will be sober, putting on our breastplate of faithand  love and our helmet of faith of (for) salvation.

8 Nos autem, qui diei sumus, sobrii simus, induti loricam fidei et caritatis et galeam spem salutis;

9ὅτι οὐκ ἔθετο ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς εἰς ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ εἰς περιποίησιν σωτηρίας διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

for God did not place us for wrath, but for the saving of salvation through our lord Jesus Christ

The benefit of being of the light/day, and being sober/watchful is salvation from the coming wrath.  This was alluded to earlier, in 1:10.  The wrath of God is when the bad folks finally get what’s coming to them.  Divine retribution for transgressions, as mentioned, is an old concept.  The twist with the apocalyptic thinking is that it will all hit the fan at the same time.  But the punishment will be allotted to individuals.  This followed the Greek idea of a personal fate; in which each will get what is coming to him/her.  Judaism was more collective, more group oriented.  Jews were the chosen people; followers of Jesus, perhaps influenced by Greek thinking, became more individualistically oriented.  We are saved because of our behaviour as individuals, not because we belong to the right group.

And it’s specifically for the followers of Jesus, because the salvation comes through him.  Both << διὰ >> and << per >> with the genitive explicitly entail the idea of a channel, or a mediator.

Greek:  ἔθετο  This is a basic word, simply meaning ‘to put’ or ‘to place.’  And Lewis & Short give a secondary definition as “to appoint,” but in the sense of appointing an official.  The NASB and the ESV translate this as ‘destine’.  The idea of destiny, especially as predestination, will become very important in later letters, especially Romans.  However, in this instance, I don’t believe that reading this as ‘destined’ is necessary, or even warranted.  We can be placed on the path to salvation, but to use ‘destined’ is, I think, misleading, especially in view of what will come later on the topic. But, regardless, we’ll take note of clues that may point in that direction. This is the first.

9 quoniam non posuit nos Deus in iram sed in acquisitionem salutis per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum,

10 τοῦ ἀποθανόντος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἵνα εἴτε γρηγορῶμεν εἴτε καθεύδωμεν ἅμα σὺν αὐτῷ ζήσωμεν.

who having died for us,so that, whether we keep watch or whether we sleep, at the same time we will live with him.

Picks up on the idea of the dead entering into life along with those remaining.  We will live. Whether we have died, or whether we remain alive to ‘keep watch’, we will live.  Paul has mentioned ‘life’ or ‘living’ a couple of times now.  This is a case where, given the 2,000 years between Paul and us, we ‘know’ exactly what he means: eternal life in heaven.  However, bear in mind that this is in no way spelled out so far.  Will it be spelled out more explicitly later in the NT?  That remains to be seen.  We have been told we’ll sit on the clouds, so that is a start.

Now, it has to be both admitted and understood that Paul’s assembly may have had a very clear idea about what “life” meant.  This, presumably, was part of Paul’s gospel.  So, this may be why Paul feels no need to explain what this concept meant.

10 qui mortuus est pro nobis, ut sive vigilemus sive dormiamus, simul cum illo vivamus.

11Διὸ παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους καὶ οἰκοδομεῖτε εἷς τὸν ἕνα, καθὼς καὶ ποιεῖτε.

Because of which (propter), console each other and build towards the one, as you do

“Build towards the one…” << οἰκοδομεῖτε εἷς τὸν ἕνα >>.  What, exactly, does this mean?  It’s not at all clear.  Nor is the Latin much help here.  Plato had his concept of << τὸ ἕν >>, The One, which was more or less similar to the way Christians came to conceive of God.  Is this what he means?  Seems doubtful, coming from a Jew, but he was speaking to Greeks, for whom the concept may  not have been unfamiliar.   

11 Propter quod consolamini invicem et aedificate alterutrum, sicut et facitis.

12Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, εἰδέναι τοὺς κοπιῶντας ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ προϊσταμένους ὑμῶν ἐν κυρίῳ καὶ νουθετοῦντας ὑμᾶς,

For we ask you, brothers, to know those toiling among you and standing before you in the lord and admonishing you

Paul is referring to himself, and to his colleagues, such as Timothy.  And perhaps the elders of the assembly that Paul, perhaps, designated.  Bear in mind, we have absolutely NO evidence for how this worked.  Later sources have descriptions of ritual and practice, but there is no reason to suppose that ritual and practice remained constant for years, or decades.  Indeed, given the lack of central direction, there is every reason to suppose that ritual and practice were different—perhaps very different—in different places.  Former pagans would have come from a different set of assumptions than Jews.  There is every reason to believe that the different groups all heard different messages, and then added their own interpretations. 

Venerable Bede, writing in the 8th Century CE, had a lot to say about the abhorrent practice of the Celtic Irish church in how they set the date of Easter.  Even with a nominal central authority held by the Bishop of Rome, lot of things did not get standardized for a very long time.  If ever.

12 Rogamus autem vos, fratres, ut noveritis eos, qui laborant inter vos et praesunt vobis in Domino et monent vos,

The rest of the letter is more or less pastoral in nature.  It is Paul trying to nurture his flock.  However, it is interesting in some of the admonitions he provides, so I’ll mention the points that stand out for me.  Overall, though, there are a lot of very nice sentiments expressed, words of encouragement and hope, so let’s not underestimate the value of the ‘pastoral’ parts.

13καὶ ἡγεῖσθαι αὐτοὺς ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ διὰ τὸ ἔργον αὐτῶν. εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς.

so that you may have them abundantly in your love because of their labors.  Let there be peace among you.

13 ut habeatis illos superabundanter in caritate propter opus illorum. Pacem habete inter vos.

14παρακαλοῦμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, νουθετεῖτε τοὺς ἀτάκτους, παραμυθεῖσθε τοὺς ὀλιγοψύχους, ἀντέχεσθε τῶν ἀσθενῶν, μακροθυμεῖτε πρὸς πάντας.

For we exhort you, brothers, admonish the unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, uphold the weak, show patience to all.

This is a very nice thought.  However, how does it match with the injunction in V-22?

14 Hortamur autem vos, fratres: corripite inquietos, consolamini pusillanimes, suscipite infirmos, longanimes estote ad omnes.

15ὁρᾶτε μή τις κακὸν ἀντὶ κακοῦ τινι ἀποδῷ, ἀλλὰ πάντοτε τὸ ἀγαθὸν διώκετε [καὶ] εἰς ἀλλήλους καὶ εἰς πάντας.

Look, do not give back evil for evil, but give always  the good (things) to each other and to everyone.

The Golden Rule, more or less.  Or, Turn the Other Cheek.  Both are messages that are common to the gospels as well.  This indicates that social aspects, loving your neighbor, were important and fundamental parts of the message of Jesus as it was preached.

15 Videte, ne quis malum pro malo alicui reddat, sed semper, quod bonum est, sectamini et in invicem et in omnes.

16Πάντοτε χαίρετε,

Be happy always,

16 Semper gaudete,

The rest of the chapter is exhortation.  It’s all meant, no doubt, as encouragement; sometimes it may come off as a bit bland, or trite, but, if you can get into the spirit of the thing, one can feel Paul’s earnestness.  He sort of sounds like the country bumpkin, unsophisticated, a bit too sincere, but he should be taken as sincere.  This may be what this audience in particular required, for we don’t find this sort of thing in all his letters.

17ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε,

pray without ceasing,

17 sine intermissione orate,

18ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε: τοῦτο γὰρ θέλημα θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς.

give thanks in all things,  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus towards you.

 [the Latin supplies the ‘est’, “is” that is lacking in the Greek.  Both Greek and Latin frequently omit the verb ‘to be’, assuming that it will be ‘understood.’  This can be rough when you first start reading real Latin or Greek. ]

18 in omnibus gratias agite; haec enim voluntas Dei est in Christo Iesu erga vos.

19τὸ πνεῦμα μὴ σβέννυτε,

Do not quench the spirit,

19 Spiritum nolite exstinguere,

20προφητείας μὴ ἐξουθενεῖτε:

do not despise the prophets

20 prophetias nolite spernere;

21πάντα δὲ δοκιμάζετε, τὸ καλὸν κατέχετε,

prove (probably ‘test’ as idiomatic to English) all things, hold the good,

21 omnia autem probate, quod bonum est tenete,

22ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ ἀπέχεσθε.

and hold yourselves away from all shapes of debauchery.

Here is the cross-reference to V-14, which tells the flock to uphold the weak, etc.  Do what is specified in V-14, but keep away from debauchery. 

 The question is why did Paul feel the need to stress this to the point that he did?  Why is this so important to him?  Was keeping it in his pants a big problem for him? 

22 ab omni specie mala abstinete vos.

23Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἁγιάσαι ὑμᾶς ὁλοτελεῖς, καὶ ὁλόκληρον ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα ἀμέμπτως ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τηρηθείη.

Let the God of peace sanctify you all/entirely, and all of you (collective), and may the whole of your spirit and your soul and your body be preserved (as) blameless on the coming of our lord Jesus Christ. 

The definite articles translate as “your”. This is common.

23 Ipse autem Deus pacis sanctificet vos per omnia, et integer spiritus vester et anima et corpus sine querela in adventu Domini nostri Iesu Christi servetur.

24πιστὸς ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς, ὃς καὶ ποιήσει.

Faithful is the one calling you, and the one  who will also do it

24 Fidelis est, qui vocat vos, qui etiam faciet.

25Ἀδελφοί, προσεύχεσθε [καὶ] περὶ ἡμῶν.

Brothers, pray for us. 

25 Fratres, orate etiam pro nobis.

26Ἀσπάσασθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς πάντας ἐν φιλήματι ἁγίῳ.

Greet all brothers with the sacred kiss.

26 Salutate fratres omnes in osculo sancto.

27Ἐνορκίζω ὑμᾶς τὸν κύριον ἀναγνωσθῆναι τὴν ἐπιστολὴν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς.

I adjure you, by the lord, to read the epistle to all brothers.

27 Adiuro vos per Dominum, ut legatur epistula omnibus fratribus.

28Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεθ’ ὑμῶν.

The grace of our lord Jesus Christ be with you.

28 Gratia Domini nostri Iesu Christi vobiscum.