Galatians 3:1-10

 Note: The Greek itself starts to be a major focus of the comments.  Did it change?  Maybe.

 1 ω ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος;

Oh foolish Galatians!  Who has bedazzled  you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ crucified previously was written (about)?  

<< ἐβάσκανεν >> is often translated as ‘bewitched.’  And it’s meant literally.

Nice rhetorical flourish.  He’s speaking about the other gospel.

1 O insensati Galatae, quis vos fascinavit, ante quorum oculos Iesus Christus descriptus est crucifixus?

2τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφ’ ὑμῶν, ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;

This alone I wish to learn from you, from the works of the law did you receive the spirit, or from hearing faith?  ( = something like “the faith which you heard me preach about”.)

 An example of the ability of Greek to compress, largely by leaving it to the reader to fill in the blanks.  But this is a bit of a problem if we’re trying to get to the “real” meaning. Interesting: the NASB and the ESV apparently translate this a hearing ‘with’ faith.  There is a certain elegance, and a certain logic to this.  My qualm is that ‘faith’ is a genitive case.  This can include the concept of ‘with’, I suppose, but it normally doesn’t.  Its base meaning is possession. To demonstrate, the KLV renders this “by the hearing of faith”,  which is reasonably similar to my more literal translation.  And the Latin more or less agrees with me.  Latin would normally render ‘with’ in the ablative, and here it’s a genitive.

2 Hoc solum volo a vobis discere: Ex operibus legis Spiritum accepistis an ex auditu fidei?

3οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε; ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε;

Are you thus unknowing? (Are you that ( stupid/  That = οὕτως ) Having begun in the spirit, will you now be finished by the flesh?

 τελεω = ‘to end.’ It comes to mean, or comes to include the meaning of being finished, in the sense of perfected.  This is how all four of my source translations handle this.  But I did want to give some acknowledgement to the original meaning of the word.     

The distinction between flesh and spirit.  This dichotomy was very important in Gnosticism, a belief system that is known as ‘dualistic’ in the sense that there is a battle between the good spirit and the wicked flesh.  Zoroastrianism was another dualistic faith, as was Manicheanism, which was to develop a few centuries later and to which St Augustine converted for a period.

 Here, however, Paul stays closer to the Greek understanding of the split between flesh and spirit.  For the Greeks, the former was not evil in itself; it was more like dead stuff that weighed down the spirit, preventing the latter from soaring to the heights of understanding.

3 Sic stulti estis? Cum Spiritu coeperitis, nunc carne consummamini?

4τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῇ; εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ.

Have you suffered this in vain?  If, indeed, in vain?

Rather a nifty piece of Greek.  Paul has his moments of stylistic proficiency.  Or is it his Athenian secretary?  Is that why we’re paying more attention to the Greek?

Not immediately, intuitively clear what the suffering is about.  Suffering for their faith, no doubt, but…how?  When?  Where?  The historian in me wants more details.

4 Tanta passi estis sine causa? Si tamen et sine causa!

5ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;

So who paying for you (supplying) the spirit working miracles among you?  [Is it ] from the works of the law, or of the heard-about faith?

<< ἐπιχορηγῶν >> literally means ‘to pay the expense of a chorus for a play, or a festival.’  KJV = ‘minister’.  ESV = “supplies” and I think that’s a good compromise. 

 ‘Heard about spirit’ is same phrase discussed in verse 2.

5 Qui ergo tribuit vobis Spiritum et operatur virtutes in vobis, ex operibus legis an ex auditu fidei?

6καθὼς Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην.

Accordingly Abraham believed in God, and it was counted by him (to be) towards justification.

Here begins Paul’s argument for the supersession of the Law by Faith in Jesus Christ.  Abraham lived before Moses, so before the Law was written in the Pentateuch.

 Abraham was ‘justified’.  This word/concept will continue to be a big issue from now on.

6 Sicut Abraham credidit Deo, et reputatum est ei ad iustitiam.

7Γινώσκετε ἄρα ὅτι οἱ ἐκ πίστεως, οὗτοι υἱοί εἰσιν Ἀβραάμ.

You know that those from faith, those are the sons of Abraham.

Honestly, this argument is sheer genius.  This whole argument is worthy of Aristotle. It starts at the beginning, it flows simply and naturally, it hangs together beautifully, and it’s really convincing.

7 Cognoscitis ergo quia qui ex fide sunt, hi sunt filii Abrahae.

8προϊδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γραφὴ ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοῖ τὰ ἔθνη ὁ θεὸς προευηγγελίσατο τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ὅτι Ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.

But the writing having seen that from faith God justified the peoples, pre-announced to Abraham, that among you the peoples all will be blessed.

And he keeps going with it, extending it to non-Jews.  He may play on the meaning of ‘all peoples’, whether that phrase in that context truly meant everyone, but I can’t argue that one way or the other.  Still, it’s a brilliant piece of logic, or, at least, of rhetoric.

8 Providens autem Scriptura, quia ex fide iustificat gentes Deus, praenuntiavit Abrahae: “Benedicentur in te omnes gentes”.

9ὥστε οἱ ἐκ πίστεως εὐλογοῦνται σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ.

Therefore, those who are from faith will be well-spoken (= blessed) together in the faith of Abraham.

A bit pedantic on my part, translating << εὐλογοῦνται >>  as ‘well-spoken’, but that’s the literal meaning. Same is true in Latin, too: ‘bene-dictus’.

9 Igitur, qui ex fide sunt, benedi cuntur cum fideli Abraham.

10ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσὶν ὑπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν: γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά.

For whosoever (are) of the works of the law under a curse are: for it is written that “Accursed are all who do not continue ( lit = remain ) in all the things in the the book of law to (= and) do those things”.

Bottom line: if you’re going to live under the Law, you have to abide by all of it.  Every, single last bit.  Hence, Jesus in Matthew saying he had not come to remove a single letter of the law.

This is actually a quote of Deuteronomy 27:26.  It comes at the end of a series of actions that are necessary to keep the law.  As susch, it lays a pretty heavy burden on all who would try to keep The Law, since The Law is very massive, and very detailed.  This, of course, is Paul’s point.

 Which would raise the question: does Paul expect the Gentile Galatians to know this?  At least, I’m assuming they were Gentiles.  We were told that the Thessalonians were, converted directly from paganism.  Are we to take this to mean that the Galatians were Jewish?  It’s not impossible, but, on the surface, seems unlikely.

 See 4:8.  Seems to be saying there that the Galatians were enslaved to beings that were not gods; i.e., pagan gods.

 Also, see James 2:10.  He cites, or rather alludes to the Deuteronomy passage and adds a twist.  If you break only one commandment, you are guilty of breaking all the others, too.  Or, you are just as guilty as if you had broken the others as well.  This really gets to the heart of what Paul is implying, IMO.

The idea is that one has to remain within the strictures of the law AND do all the things contained in the law.  The Greek is a little rough here.  Rather, it’s difficult to get the English to fit the Greek in a meaningful way. 

10 Quicumque enim ex operibus legis sunt, sub maledicto sunt; scriptum est enim: “ Maledictus omnis, qui non permanserit in omnibus, quae scripta sunt in libro legis, ut faciat ea ”.


About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on October 9, 2012, in epistles, Galatians, Paul's Letters and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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