Category Archives: Galatians

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So Far

To date we have taken on 1 Thessalonians and Galatians. These are two of Paul’s earlier works; as such, they represent the oldest surviving writing in what came to be the Christian Scripture, or the Christian corpus as a whole.

I hope it seems clear that Galatians represents something of an ‘advance’ over 1 Thessalonians. By this I mean that it should seem that Galatians has an extra layer. 1 Thessalonians is, primarily, and to a large extent, a pastoral letter. That is, its main focus seems to be on exhortation and comfort of the Thessalonian community. Some of it recapitulates Paul’s experience there. The ‘theological’ content is rather oh-by-the-way, consisting mainly of the choice of phrases (Lord Jesus Christ; God our Father; preach with power). Galatians, on the other hand, is almost a legal argument setting out the ‘case’ for ‘his’ gospel over the ‘other’ gospel, apparently that of the Jerusalem Assembly.

It should be noted, though, that 1 Thessalonians also has implications of ‘competing’ gospels. Paul is quick to point out that he took great pains not to be a burden, working ‘day and night’, presumably to make money, so that he didn’t have to rely on the recompense he says was due to an apostle.  This may imply that others had come, and had claimed the support of the community. And there are references in 1 Corinthians, to other preachers, such as Peter and Apollos.  Overall, we are given the sense that Paul was not alone in his missionary activity.  There were others; and, given the lack of real central control, there was not a consistency of message. This is not, or should not be surprising. This was one of the motivating forces for the development of the Institutional Church.

The other overall impression we are given is that these early communities had already accepted the notion of being children of God. Jesus was The Christ, raised from the dead by Our Father, after Jesus had been crucified. More, the Christ was expected to return, riding on the clouds. The dead would join the living in…well, someplace. The heavens, or the heaven, which does not seem to have become Heaven quite yet. There have been a couple of hints of an idea that will come to be seen as Predestination once it gets spelled out in Romans.  This much is common to both epistles.

In addition, Galatians has told us that faith is primary, especially over the Law. As such, the assemblies of Jesus had begun, to some degree, to pull away from their Jewish roots. Perhaps this is why the Jerusalem Assembly thought it was a good idea to send other missionaries to places where Paul had already been: to reel in these groups that were drifting too far from the Jewish heritage. Paul may have been given sanction to preach to the Gentiles in the way that Peter preached to the circumcised, but Paul does not say that James and the Pillars gave him leave to cut ties to the Jerusalem Assembly completely. In fact, Paul seems to concede that he was obligated to ‘remember the poor’, which likely means pay the temple tax to the group in Jerusalem.

We have also been introduced to the concept of grace; but we’re not quite sure what this actually means. Whatever Paul intended with the term, it seems likely he didn’t mean what later theologians decided it came to mean.

So, where do we go from here?

At this point, I think it would be best to go on to the Gospel of Mark.  Ideally, we should do at least 1 Corinthians and Romans before moving on to the gospels, but I believe it will be useful to see how the gospel message differs from what Paul has been telling us. After looking at Mark, I think it would be best to come back to 1 Corinthians and Romans. That will make the ‘compare and contrast’ more effective.  I believe.  Or, ‘I hope’ might be more accurate. Maybe, too, once we get to more familiar ground, those of you reading this will feel more comfortable about commenting.

So let me say, once more and with feeling, that I am not an expert on this. My dread is that someone who truly knows what they are talking about will come along and blow me out of the water!  If this happens, so be it.  However, I think we’re getting to the actual words that were written. We may not have approached the ‘historical Jesus’, but that is not the point. The goal is to get to the historical message propagated by the followers of Jesus. These are two very different things.


Paul introduced the notion of grace into the discussion of the Christ. It is used frequently in both the letters written by Paul, and those ascribed to him, such as Timothy, Titus, & c.

The odd thing, however, is that the word is completely absent from both Mark and Matthew.  It reappears in Luke/Acts, appears only twice in John, and then is taken up by the other writers of epistles, including James, Peter, and Jude.

Of the dozen or so of times the term <<χάρις>> is used by Paul, or his disciples writing as Paul, the vast majority of them are translated as ‘grace’.  There are a few times when it’s translated as ‘thanks’ or ‘favor’, or even once as ‘gift.’  We really have to ask ourselves what Paul meant by this word.

[ Note: here is where the Great Treasures Bible site comes in really handy. If you click on a word in the Greek text, you are provided with a complete list of every time the word is used in the NT.  And it provides the snippet of the sentence in which the word occurs, so it’s possible to get at least some sense of context. ]

It bears repeating that the basic meaning of the word is ‘favor.’  What is interesting is that in a large number of these occurrences, if you were  to translate <<χάρις>> as ‘favor’, the sentence would still make perfect sense. Thus, we have to ask ourselves why it gets translated as ‘grace’?  It is crucial to ask this question because substituting ‘favor’ for grace gives something of a different reading.

Or does it?

If you look up the term ‘grace’ in the Catholic Encyclopedia, one is confronted with a fairly long, rather technical discussion. Included in this discussion is a distinction between actual grace, supernatural grace, sanctifying grace, and probably others. The OED Online defines the Christian of grace concept as

  • the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

One perfectly logical reason for translating <<χάρις>> as ‘grace’would be because it was rendered in Latin as ‘gratia.’  From here, it’s but a step to ‘grace’.  However, I have to question the process here. An entire edifice of Christian theology is built upon the concept of ‘grace’, as can plainly be seen from the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia. However, it strikes me that something happened, that the word, the idea of  ‘favor’ underwent a metamorphosis and turned into something that simply wasn’t there in the original.

However, I could be dead wrong about this because I am completely misunderstanding the idea of ‘grace’, both in its later Christian form, and as the word is used in both Greek and Latin.

So let’s look at the uses of the word in Galatians. I will provide the translation as ‘grace’, then simply change the word to ‘favor’.  Let’s see if the meaning is distorted.

1:3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

Upon you the grace and peace from God our father and the lord Jesus Christ…

Upon you the favor  and peace from God our father and the lord Jesus Christ…

IMO, there is no difference in meaning between these two sentences. Or, if there is, we have to ask what the word ‘grace’ means in English.

1:6 Θαυμάζωὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰςἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον…

I marvel how quickly you have turned from the one calling you in/by the grace [of Christ] to another gospel.

I marvel how quickly you have turned from the one calling you in/by the favor [of Christ] to another gospel.

Here we get a slightly difference meaning, but only if we accept that ‘grace’ means something different than ‘favor’ in English.  Of course, the two words are not identical; otherwise, there would not be two words.

However, we then have to ask if the different meanings of ‘grace’ and ‘favor’ are not the result of 2,000 years of being told that they are different, so that ‘everybody knows’  what ‘grace’ means in this context. Let’s look at those definitions I cited above. There s absolutely no reason to believe that Paul intended his word to mean anything like what either of these two sources define as ‘grace’.

One reason I believe this is because the term disappeared from usage for a couple of decades, until it was revived by Luke, for reasons unknown.  Now, we can posit differences in what Paul’s communities believed, and what Mark’s and Matthew’s communities believed, and this would be a reasonable inference. There likely were differences. But ‘grace’ as the Catholic Encyclopedia defines it would have been rather important, and probably would not have disappeared for a couple of decades.  Would it?

1:15 ὅτε δὲ εὐδόκησεν [ὁ θεὸς] ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου καὶ καλέσας διὰτῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ…

However, it pleased [God], he separating me from my mother’s womb, and calling me through his grace

However, it pleased [God], he separating me from my mother’s womb, and calling me through his favor

IMO, ‘favor’ works perfectly well here, unless we’re going to argue there is a connotation of ‘sanctifying’–or something–included in the word as Paul uses it. Or, that Paul was somehow talking about actual or sanctifying favor.

In fact, the OED definition shows us that the two words are interchangeable, as it defines ‘grace’ as ‘favor’.

2:9 καὶ γνόντεςτὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι, Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάννης, οἱ δοκοῦντες στῦλοιεἶναι, δεξιὰς ἔδωκαν ἐμοὶ…

And recognizing the grace given to me, James and Peter and John, those seeming to be the pillars (of the assembly) gave their right hand to me.

And recognizing the favor given to me, James and Peter and John, those seeming to be the pillars (of the assembly) gave their right hand to me.

IMO, there is no difference between these two translations.

2:21 οὐκ ἀθετῶ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ: εἰ γὰρ διὰ νόμου δικαιοσύνη, ἄρα Χριστὸς δωρεὰν ἀπέθανεν.

I do not reject the grace of God; for, if through the Law I am sanctified, Christ has died in vain.

I do not reject the favor of God; for, if through the Law I am sanctified, Christ has died in vain.

IMO, there is no difference between these two translations.

I’m going to take the last two together.

5:4 κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ οἵτινες ἐννόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε, τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε.

You have been made useless from/for Christ, whoever by the Law is justified; you have fallen from grace.

You have been made useless from/for Christ, whoever by the Law is justified; you have fallen from favor.

6:18  Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίουἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί: ἀμήν.

The grace of our lord Jesus Christ (be) with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

The favor of our lord Jesus Christ (be) with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

At first glance, these two seem rather similar to 1:16.  But–and this is a big caveat–these all seem to fit into somewhat of a similar pattern.

Substituting ‘favor’ for ‘grace’, does give us a slightly different meaning; however, in most of these instances, it’s because we (or I) have come to believe that ‘grace’ is not the same thing as God’s favor. It is, of course, but, to my mind, ‘grace’ has the sense of something like pixie dust (!) that God sprinkles upon us. These are both ‘things’, but ‘favor’ is decidedly non-substantial. It can be granted, but it is an attitude. ‘Grace’, OTOH, has the sense of something closer to ‘spirit’; it’s not tangible, perhaps, but that has an existence independent of the grantor. Favor does not. A favor, or ‘favor’ cannot exist independently of the grantor.

Maybe this is it: God can give grace, but only grant favor.

All of this, however, is based on an understanding based on 2,000 years of Christian exegesis and interpretation.

And it must be stated that the concept of ‘grace’ can and probably did develop as time passed. Luke may not have understood the term in the same was as Paul did, and by the time we got to the writer, of say, The Epistle to the Hebrews, it may have meant something very different. So I’m not saying that all that exegesis is wrong, or without foundation. Rather, what I’s saying is that we cannot necessarily read all of these later developments into the word as Paul wrote it and used it. Here in these early usages, translating the Greek as ‘favor’ may not be wrong.

Let’s look at the twice that <<χάρις>> is used in 1 Thessalonians.

1:1 Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ: χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη.

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the assembly of Thessalonika, in God the father and our lord Jesus Christ: grace and peace.
Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the assembly of Thessalonika, in God the father and our lord Jesus Christ: favor and peace. 
 5: 28 Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεθ’ ὑμῶν.
The grace of the lord Jesus Christ (be) with you.
The favor of the lord Jesus Christ (be) with you.
IMO, in both instances, ‘favor’ works perfectly well.  Feel free to disagree.Chronologically, the first use of  <<χάρις>> by someone not named Paul comes in the first chapter of Luke.1:30  εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ θεῷ

The KJV translates this as “thou hast found favor with the Lord.”

As a final note, let’s take a look at the definition of the Latin term ‘gratia.’  This is obviously the root of ‘grace.’  Is it possible that the bifurcation of grace/favor came about because of something in the Latin term?

The Lewis and Short definition is as follows:

grātĭa , ae, f. gratus; lit., favor, both that in which one stands with others and that which one shows to others.

I. (Acc. to gratus, I.) Favor which one finds with others, esteem, regard,liking, love, friendship

Answer: not really.  If anything, the Latin is even further away from from what ‘grace’ has come to mean in Christian theology.

So we’ve talked about words that evolved between Classical and Biblical times.  This word–and especially the concept based on it–certainly developed in between Paul’s writing and the time when assemblies of Jesus’ followers became the Christian Church.

Summary Galatians in toto

Galatians as a whole is qualitatively different from 1 Thessalonians.  In Galatians, there was much less of the pastoral sort of exhortation than was found in 1 Thess. Now, this isn’t meant as a definitive, conclusive pronouncement, but sort of a general observation.

Overall, Galatians is an argument. As in, it’s a case set out, with premises and evidence intended to convince the reader (hearer, in ancient times) of a particular point of view.

What appears to have happened is that Paul converted pagan Galatians. That the latter is true rests on internal evidence, especially the whole issue of circumcision. This would not have been an issue for Jews who would already have been circumcised.

After this conversion, probably some time after, new representatives of Jesus followers attempt to sway the Galatians to another gospel. This horrifies Paul beyond belief, and he writes this letter to bring the Galatians back to their senses, and to the true gospel that he preached to them.  This alternative gospel, in all probability, was that of, or closely related to, that taught by the Jerusalem Assembly. This would have meant pretty much following the Jewish Law, including submitting to circumcision.

To demonstrate this point, Paul engages in some autobiography.  He tells us of his conversion, telling us that he is on par with James and the others because Paul experienced the risen Christ just as they had. That he hadn’t know the living Jesus doesn’t matter to Paul. Whether this is because for Paul, as Akenson argued, Jesus did not become the Christ until the resurrection.

Then, like an attorney establishing standing, Paul tells us the story of the Council of Jerusalem, when he went to Jerusalem and met with the pillars of the community there. This included James, the brother of Jesus, Cephas, and John. The last two figure prominently in the gospels. James, however, was neither James, the son of Zebidee, nor the other James, surnamed The Lesser. IOW, this James was not a member of Jesus’ followers while Jesus was alive.

The outcome of this ‘council’ was that Paul’s mission to the Gentiles was given official recognition and sanction by James and the leaders of the Jerusalem Assembly. In exchange, Paul agreed to collect what was, essentially, the temple tax expected of all Jews, the proceeds to be paid to the Jerusalem Assembly.

Paul does this, I believe, to demonstrate that he has jurisdiction over Gentile converts. As such, the new preachers are cutting into turf that rightly–per the agreement made–belonged to Paul. As such, they had no business intruding into the Galatian assembly and sowing dissension. Both by virtue of receiving his gospel directly from God, and by virtue of the agreement of Jerusalem, Paul is the pre-eminent authority here.

After establishing his standing, and the superiority of his jurisdiction, Paul then goes into a very long, very complex metaphor. The basis is the distinction between the Law, given to Moses, and the promise, given to Abraham, four-hundred and some-odd years prior to the Law. This temporal precedence is meant to demonstrate the spiritual superiority of the Promise over the Law.

The Law was a necessary evil, something to take care of ‘us’ while we were spiritual minors. The Law was a pedagogue, a tutor, a trustee charged with watching over us until the coming of The Christ.

There are comparisons, dichotomies, distinctions between following Jesus and following the law.  The difference is no less than that between freedom and slavery.  Abraham had two sons; one of a slave, the other of a free-born woman. Followers of the Christ are the descendants of the free woman, Sarah; followers of the Law are the descendants of Hagar, the slave.

Another significant dichotomy that Paul sets up is that between flesh and spirit.  To the best of my knowledge, this concept owes more to the Graeco-Roman thought world than it does to the Judaic/Hebraic one. However, I don’t know enough about the latter to say that definitively. The point is, flesh is bad, spirit is good, and the Law is likened to the flesh, and the Christ-faith is of the spirit.

So, the point is, Galatians is a remarkably cohesive,  very well-presented case for why following the Christ is preferable to following the Law.


Unbelievably, I forgot perhaps one of the most important themes of this letter.  It’s the idea of the Law vs. Faith. Abraham was given the Promise because he put his faith in God and obeyed God’s injunction to sacrifice his only son. Abraham thus demonstrated the priority of faith over the Law.  This idea in Paul would form the basis for Martin Luther’s doctrine of salvation through faith, and not through works.  Faith is believing and trusting God; works, OTOH, are what the Law prescribes.

Faith is superior to the Law and to works.

Summary Galatians Chapter 6

Despite my contention that the last chapter of these epistles tend to drift off into pastoral concerns or exhortation, there is a fair bit to say about this, the final chapter of  Galatians.

We discussed whether or not Paul used a secretary.  This is a topic which may be reasonably settled, but I’m not aware of it.  High level of risk for me to look foolish on this topic. Oh well. This initially came from the section (Gal 1:10) where we discussed the Athenian form of the verb ‘to be.’  Now. Paul was writing from Athens, but that doesn’t mean he had an Athenian–or any other kind of–secretary.

There was a mention of actions having consequences.  Nothing exactly earth-shattering.

We also had a discussion about an apparent contradiction, in which I showed how pedantic I can be.

One of the more interesting moments was when Paul seemed to tell the assembly to be nicer to other members of the faith. This appears to run contrary to the spirit of Matthew 5:46, in which we are told there’s no benefit to loving only those who love you.

We also revisited the persecutions, and came to the conclusion that the followers of the Jerusalem Assembly were likely the persecutors, since Paul spends a fair bit of time on the whole ‘to be or not to be circumcised’ issue.

Paul also described himself as ‘crucified to the world.’  This is, perhaps, the intellectual or metaphorical beginnings of the idea of mortification of the flesh.  This led to a tangent about Jesus’ relationship–if any–given that Paul never mentions John.

Finally, there was the concept of grace.  But this discussion will  deferred to a later post.

Galatians Chapter 6:11-18

Chapter 6, and the letter, concludes.   Updated

11Ἴδετε πηλίκοις ὑμῖν γράμμασιν ἔγραψα τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί.

You’ve seen such big letters I have written to you, in my own hand.

Well, this certainly shoots a big hole in my argument about Paul having a secretary!  (Gal 1:10).  Seriously, this is now an issue, on which I don’t have anything to say at this point.  This is becoming the sort of thing where I may simply not be qualified to have an opinion that’s worth the bytes it’s printed with.

11 Videte qualibus litteris scripsi vobis mea manu.

12ὅσοι θέλουσιν εὐπροσωπῆσαι ἐν σαρκί, οὗτοι ἀναγκάζουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι, μόνον ἵνα τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μὴ διώκωνται:

Whosoever wishes to appear pleasing in the flesh, those who force you to be circumcised, only so that in the cross of the Christ you will not be persecuted.

Who is doing the persecuting here?  How does this square with what we read about the meetings of Paul with James in Jerusalem?  Why would the Gentiles persecute, or even care, who was circumcised or not?  This is an issue only for observant Jews, like the James Gang.  Are there Jews who are still trying to stamp out the Jesus sect, the way Paul did before he crossed the aisle and joined the other side?  Who else is likely to be doing the persecuting?

12 Quicumque volunt placere in carne, hi cogunt vos circumcidi, tantum ut crucis Christi persecutionem non patiantur;

13οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ περιτεμνόμενοι αὐτοὶ νόμον φυλάσσουσιν, ἀλλὰ θέλουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι ἵνα ἐν τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ σαρκὶ καυχήσωνται.

For neither do the circumcised themselves protect the Law, but they wish you to be circumcised so that in your flesh they might boast.

This is borderline bizarre. The circumcised want to boast about how they got others to be circumcised?  And we come back to whether the Galatians are Jews?  Here, if whether they are circumcised is an issue, one would infer that they are not.  However, in other places it would seem like they are.  Why else would the whole story of Abraham have any resonance?

But the point seems to be something like the observant Jews somehow take pride in convincing—or coercing? Hence the persecution?—other Jews (or non-Jews who want to follow Jesus as a sect of Judaism) to accept circumcision. Seriously?  How does that work?

I guess, if they’re boasting, then getting others to accept circumcision is a point of honour (or something) with them.

But let’s think about this for a minute.  Some Jesus followers believed, apparently very strongly, that following Jesus fully meant being a Jew first. James, brother of Jesus, was apparently of this mindset.  Is that so surprising? This was their tradition; it was what they knew. Why wouldn’t they feel uncomfortable leaving it? And convincing others to follow them surely helped convince themselves that what they were doing was right, or proper, or the best thing to do.  It only gets to be a problem if persecution, or coercion is involved. And it certainly seems contrary to the agreement that Paul would proselytize the uncircumcised.

13 neque enim, qui circumciduntur, legem custodiunt, sed volunt vos circumcidi, ut in carne vestra glorientur.

14 ἐμοὶ δὲ μὴ γένοιτο καυχᾶσθαι εἰ μὴ ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, δι’ οὗ ἐμοὶ κόσμος ἐσταύρωται κἀγὼ κόσμῳ.

But to me there is no being boastful if not (unless/except in) the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, through whom to me the world was crucified, and I (was crucified) to the world.

“Crucified to the world”. Essentially, the beginnings of the foundation for the idea of mortification of the flesh.  Or, perhaps, the intellectual justification for & foundation of the idea.

Update.  Here’s an interesting point: I started the summary for the chapter. When I got to this point, I was going to talk about how the idea of being crucified to the world was not alien to Jewish tradition, and was to use John the Baptist as an example.  Then I decided to check on Paul’s references to John.

Paul never mentions John.

This may belong more to discussionso f the gospels, but just to presage a bit. 

It is something of a commonplace that Jesus started as a disciple of John. Modern commentators generally make this point to lessen Jesus’ role a bit. However, when I get to the point of discussing John, in Mark 1, my contention is not that John was diminished by the gospels, but that he, and his role, and Jesus’ attachment to John were deliberately overstated by the gospel writers to give Jesus more of a pedigree.

That Paul doesn’t mention John the Baptist helps, I believe, make this point. 

14 Mihi autem absit gloriari, nisi in cruce Domini nostri Iesu Christi, per quem mihi mundus crucifixus est, et ego mundo.

15 οὔτε γὰρ περιτομή τί ἐστιν οὔτε ἀκροβυστία, ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις.

For there is neither circumcised nor uncircumcised, but a new possession.

I am not at all sure how ‘possession’ gets morphed into ‘creature’, or ‘creation.’  But that’s how the Latin renders it, and all of my crib translations follow suit.  The root meaning of  << κτίσις  >> is to possess.  This is the term Thucydides used for his famous claim that his history would be ‘a possession for all time.”

But aside from the morphing of words, we finish out by emphasizing that circumcision is not important.  This would matter to the Gentile members of the Assembly.

15 Neque enim circumcisio aliquid est neque praeputium sed nova creatura.

16 καὶ ὅσοι τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ στοιχήσουσιν, εἰρήνη ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἔλεος, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ.

And howsomuch in this law they are arranged, peace over them and compassion, and upon Israel and God.

Sort of making peace with those of another opinion?

16 Et quicumque hanc regulam secuti fuerint, pax super illos et misericordia et super Israel Dei.

17Τοῦ λοιποῦ κόπους μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέτω, ἐγὼ γὰρ τὰ στίγματα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματί μου βαστάζω.

Of the rest let no one trouble me,  for I the marks of Jesus on my body carry.

I’ve seen this taken to mean that Paul had the stigmata; the wounds of the crucifixion that miraculously appear on the bodies of only the most pious of saints, like Francis of Assisi.  However, I don’t think we need to take this so literally.  Paul was imprisoned a number of times, and, per Acts, flogged.  Or, absent that, he traveled a lot on his missions, and that has to leave marks on a person.

17 De cetero nemo mihi molestus sit; ego enim stigmata Iesu in super corpore meo porto.

18Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί: ἀμήν.

The grace of our lord Jesus the Christ (be) with your spirit, brothers, amen.

18 Gratia Domini nostri Iesu Christi cum spiritu vestro, fratres. Amen.

Note: The plan was to add a discussion on ‘grace’ here. The idea was to include both the Greek term per se, as well as how << χάρις >>  is, and maybe should be translated in individual instances.

“Grace” is now fraught with all sorts of theological connotations, so I think it’s well-worth looking at in some detail.  However, that will be appended as a separate entry.  That way the discussion can all be in one place.

Galatians Chapter 6:1-10

Chapter 6 begins.   Updated

1Ἀδελφοί, ἐὰν καὶ προλημφθῇ ἄνθρωπος ἔν τινι παραπτώματι, ὑμεῖς οἱ πνευματικοὶ καταρτίζετε τὸν τοιοῦτον ἐν πνεύματι πραΰτητος, σκοπῶν σεαυτόν, μὴ καὶ σὺ πειρασθῇς.

Brothers, if a man is caught in some sort of transgression, you the spiritual ones put this sort in order in a spirit of gentleness, watching yourself, les you are not tempted.

Tempted?  Into what?  The sin in which the other person is caught?  Or, more likely (though can’t exactly say why I believe this), the implication is that the one helping should not become puffed with pride because s/he is so superior.  I have the impression that there is something like this in 1 Thess, but I can’t seem to pin it down.

1 Fratres, et si praeoccupatus fuerit homo in aliquo delicto, vos, qui spiritales estis, huiusmodi instruite in spiritu lenitatis, considerans teipsum, ne et tu tenteris.

2Ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη βαστάζετε, καὶ οὕτως ἀναπληρώσετε τὸν νόμον τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Bear each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the time of the Christ.

Perhaps I shouldn’t generalize too much, but the final chapter tends to drift into exhortation, pastoral concerns, and generally nice thoughts. At  least, that’s how it went in 1 Thess.  Nothing wrong with this.

2 Alter alterius onera portate et sic adimplebitis legem Christi.

3εἰ γὰρ δοκεῖ τις εἶναί τι μηδὲν ὤν, φρεναπατᾷ ἑαυτόν:

For if someone seems to be what they are not, they deceive themselves.

3 Nam si quis existimat se aliquid esse, cum sit nihil, ipse se seducit;

4τὸ δὲ ἔργον ἑαυτοῦ δοκιμαζέτω ἕκαστος, καὶ τότε εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον τὸ καύχημα ἕξει καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἕτερον:

But let each of you test his own work, and then [towards ] he himself alone will have the glory and not to the other/another one.   (and the glory will [reflect, i.e.] towards he himself, and to no one else.)

Again, we come across some Greek that is particularly un-amenable to being translated smoothly into English.  It requires a certain amount of poetic licence.  However, this is where things get lost.  Sounds good in the new language, but has drifted rather far from what the original says.  This is fine when translating poetry with an idea of giving a sense of the poetry, but it often does violence to the original.

 This is why I don’t feel I’ve ever read a satisfactory translation of The Iliad.  To impart the sense of poetry is to mangle the Greek; to maintain the Greek is to lose all sense of poetry.  So, I would recommend prose translations if you can’t read it in the original!

Perhaps, “to thine own self be true” might not be a bad paraphrase?

4 opus autem suum probet unusquisque et sic in semetipso tantum gloriationem habebit et non in altero.

5ἕκαστος γὰρ τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον βαστάσει.

For each will carry his personal burden.

Per 6:2 above, they are instructed to carry each other’s burdens.  However, comments like this are absolutely pedantic on my part (highlighted phrases added for clarity).  I mean, really?  How pedantic  can I get?  Answer: very.

 Now, OTOH, there is an implication here.  Paul didn’t catch the ‘contradiction’.  Or, if he did, he didn’t feel it was a contradiction; or he didn’t feel it was worth ‘correcting’.  In either case, well, the decision is rhetorical and there’s no disputing the taste of it.  The decision becomes artistic, and so impossible to quibble with on substantive grounds of meaning.

But, if he didn’t catch it, then what?  Then we have to ask ourselves if he revised and re-drafted.  It was not unusual to write several drafts of a work of substance.  The last part of Thucydides reads very much like a rough draft that the author did not have time to complete before he, presumably, died.  But did Paul draft his letters?  Or were they dashed off, a one-off, the way most letters are written?  This leads to all sorts of questions: how systematic a thinker was he?  How ‘considered’ was his material?

This has implications.  IMHO, Romans and 1 Corinthians feel very much like considered, thought-out, fairly well-crafted pieces of literature.  Akenson cites Romans as a wonderful piece of prose, highly literate.  I’ve translated a chunk of it, but haven’t re-worked it enough to have a real feel for it.  Same with 1 Corinthians.  Galatians, OTOH, does not feel like it has the same high level of literary polish.  

This is one reason I tend to believe Galatians is earlier than 1 Corinthians.  However, I fully admit that this is not conclusive one way or the other. Galatians could very easily be later and ‘less literature-like’; there is no inherent reason why something later could not be less polished.  It’s easily plausible that he wrote Galatians quickly, to meet an immediate need. What sort of need? The fact that ‘another gospel’ was taking root among the Galatian assembly.

But feel free to disagree with me. On this, or any other point.

 One theme of Galatians, starting way back in Chapter 1:10 was the idea of Paul having a secretary, perhaps a native Greek speaker from Athens.  This inference was based on the unusual, Athenian, form of the verb ‘to be’ that was used.  As we have gone along, however, I have become less convinced that Paul had a more educated secretary writing Galatians.  Assuming he was in Athens as he says, picking up the odd Athenian form is not exactly remarkable.  As we have moved along, though, there have an increasing number of places where the prose, or the thinking, seems less than pellucid, as my Tacitus prof used to say.  These are frequent enough and severe enough that I now have strong doubts that Paul used a secretary for this letter.  Not the least of these is the place below in 6:9 where he talks about the long letters written in his own hand!

5 Unusquisque enim onus suum portabit.

6Κοινωνείτω δὲ ὁ κατηχούμενος τὸν λόγον τῷ κατηχοῦντι ἐν πᾶσιν ἀγαθοῖς.

Let the one being instructed make common (communicate) the lesson with him (the one) who has instructed him in all good things.

6 Communicet autem is, qui catechizatur verbum, ei qui se catechizat, in omnibus bonis.

7Μὴ πλανᾶσθε, θεὸς οὐ μυκτηρίζεται: ὃ γὰρ ἐὰν σπείρῃ ἄνθρωπος, τοῦτο καὶ θερίσει:

Do not be wandered (deceived), God must not be mocked. For what a man sows, this shall he reap.

 << πλανᾶσθε >> is the root of the word ‘planet’.  It means, ‘to wander’.  In the night sky, the path of the stars is fixed and pretty much immutable; planets, OTOH, show up in different places.  That is, they ‘wander’ along the band of the Zodiac.

Beyond this we have a clear statement about actions having consequences.  That is, this could be used to indicate that faith alone may not be enough to be justified by God?  This is the genesis of a huge dispute in Christianity: faith alone, or works? Or both?  Eventually, to make sure that we miserable humans were sufficiently ground down into abject despair of our souls, Augustine said, in effect, neither.  We had to be chosen, or predestined, from the foundations of the world for salvation, and nothing we did could make a difference.  Paul seems to be saying something different here.

7 Nolite errare: Deus non irridetur. Quae enim seminaverit homo, haec et metet;

8ὅτι ὁ σπείρων εἰς τὴν σάρκα ἑαυτοῦ ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς θερίσει φθοράν, ὁ δὲ σπείρων εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος θερίσει ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

That the sower to his own body from the flesh sows corruption, the one sowing to the spirit from the spirit sows eternal life.

 Flesh and spirit again.  This is taking on the life of a ‘theme’.

8 quoniam, qui seminat in carne sua, de carne metet corruptionem; qui autem seminat in Spiritu, de Spiritu metet vitam aeternam.

9τὸ δὲ καλὸν ποιοῦντες μὴ ἐγκακῶμεν, καιρῷ γὰρ ἰδίῳ θερίσομεν μὴ ἐκλυόμενοι.

But the one doing good does not tire, for in the season for its sowing for himself he will not lack.

Face it: that sounds bloody awful.  Will not lack?  Lack what?  He won’t tire, so, presumably, he won’t lack the energy to go out and sow because he has to get it done in the season (?).

 In order to make that sound good, you really have to smooth that over artistically.  Doing so obviously means that you’re tampering with nuances.

 And really, even the ‘standard’ definition is really something like an anecdotal statistical sampling: most of the time, this word means ‘x’.  Somewhat less of the time, it means ‘y’.  Then we have situations where, 2% of the time, it seems to mean ‘q’.

 This goes back to the McGrath book I mentioned in relation to the differences between  << δικαιωσυνη>> and <<iustificio >> (See Gal 2:16).  In his treatment, he came up with the concept of a ‘linguistic field’. (He may not have originated it; I don’t know off-hand.)  A word is more than its meaning: it also encompasses what it excludes, what it doesn’t mean, whether it has good or bad connotations.

 So when we encounter passages like this one,  we have to keep the concept of linguistic fields very much in mind.  For example. ‘shadow’ and ‘shade’ mean, essentially, the same thing.  However, ‘shade’ does not have the negative connotations of ‘shadow’.  We don’t say ‘a shade came over her face.’  Or, ‘he was shaded by an unknown pursuer’.  However, characters are ‘shady’, but that’s a different form of the word, the adjective rather than the noun.  Even here, a ‘shadowy figure’ is not at all the same thing as a ‘shady figure’.  One is indistinct, the other is unsavoury.  There is a very real difference.  Yes, we can say that the first can mean unsavoury as well; we can say it, but we generally would not.

 9 Bonum autem facientes infatigabiles, tempore enim suo metemus non deficientes.

10ἄρα οὖν ὡς καιρὸν ἔχομεν, ἐργαζώμεθα τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς πάντας, μάλιστα δὲ πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως.

So therefore as we have the occasion, we do good things towards all, but especially towards those dwelling in the faith.

First a note on the Greek: Notice that in V-9 << καιρὸς >> got translated as ‘season’.  That is the base meaning.  Here, OTOH, I have translated it ‘occasion’.  This is a good example of linguistic field, and how it can expand.  If you think about it, the two translations are not at all exclusionary.  “In season” can certainly mean ‘at the proper time’.  But that doesn’t exactly work here.  However, “the proper time” and “when the occasion arises” overlap a great deal.  So I gave into peer pressure and used ‘occasion’ in this verse.  I’ve seen it translated as ‘opportunity’ as well.  That doesn’t have the temporal connotations of ‘occasion’, however.

Now for the meaning of the words.  The last part: we do good, but especially to those who dwell ( or, ‘whose house’ is in the faith, to catch the root meaning of << οἰκείους >>, which is ‘house’) in the faith.  Think about this in relation to Jesus’ statement that we get no benefit from loving those who love us (Mth 5:46).  After all, even the heathen do that. Here, Paul is saying something quite different. 

 What, exactly, is the significance of the difference?  Is there any?  I believe there is.  By the time the gospels were written, the Jerusalem Assembly did not exist any longer.  By that point one has to consider whether, perhaps, the tipping point had been reached and the majority of converts were now Gentiles, and not Jews.  Given this, was the injunction to include everyone sort of a PR move, designed to make people think, ‘hey—those Jesus people sure are nice.’  Or something along those lines?

10 Ergo dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum ad omnes, maxime autem ad domesticos fidei.

Summary Galatians Chapter 5

Summarizing Galatians Chapter 5.

Paul continues the metaphor of the Judaic Law as slavery.  Since this was a large part of Chapter 4, he apparently feels pretty strongly about this. He’s not going to let go until he’s browbeaten his listeners into agreement.  In contrast, Christ represents freedom.

The most reasonable conclusion to draw from all of this is that the Galatians had become subjected to an attempt to “convert” them to becoming Jewish Christians in the manner of the Jerusalem Assembly.  Already in 1:6, we are told of the ‘new gospel’.  Given all the anti-Jewish argument that followed, and that is continued here, I don’t see what else we could be talking about.

In fact, followers of the law, we are told, have fallen out of God’s grace.  What, exactly, he means by that, is an open question.  It should be noted that the base meaning of the Greek term “charis/charitas” is, really, “favour”.  Now, technically, falling out of grace, and falling out of favour can refer to identical situations.  However, the first has at least a level of religious implication that is, IMO, completely lacking in the latter.  Or, The second can be either wholly secular, or wholly religious, but “grace” has, at a minimum, an implied religious connotation.

Should verse 5 be “spirit”? Or “Spirit” (Holy implied). I suggest the former.

Paul can’t decide if circumcision is of no value, or actively bad.

And, once again, Paul stresses that he is ‘from God’, while the others are not.

The major concept of the section 5:11-26 is the distinction between flesh and spirit. This is, largely, a Greek concept, with a very long history in Greek thought.  It is not, to the best of my knowledge, derived from the OT.  Paul concludes the chapter with a fairly lengthy catalog of the vices attendant upon the flesh, and the virtues that follow from the spirit (not necessarily The (Holy) Spirit.

Galatians Chapter 5:11-26

Chapter 5 continues:

11ἐγὼ δέ, ἀδελφοί, εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω, τί ἔτι διώκομαι; ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ.

But I, brothers, if I will yet preach circumcision, why yet am I persecuted?  Then the scandal of the cross is voided.

This is kind of interesting. First, who’s persecuting him?  Had to think about this one. If he preaches circumcision, he’s going along with mainstream Jewish thinking, so he’s not flaunting the differences of the Jesus followers. This means that he’s eliminated the scandal of the cross by not waving it in people’s faces.

Or something. Maybe even something like that.

11 Ego autem, fratres, si circumcisionem adhuc praedico, quid adhuc persecutionem patior? Ergo evacuatum est scandalum crucis.

12 ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς.

Oh, would that also they cut themselves those disturbing you.

 They cut themselves.’  Rendered variously as ‘mutilate themselves’, and even ‘castrate (excuse me, ‘emasculate’) themselves.

Wow.  This is a bit harsh. Plus, notice the range of translations. I think the idea is something like ‘go circumcise yourself’, but, if it’s a mainstream Jew, then that’s already been done. Maybe he does mean ’emasculate’? I doubt it, despite the fact that both the ESV and the NIV translate it this way, but it’s possible.  The KJV, however,  renders it as ‘would that those bothering you were cut off” (language updated slightly.)

12 Utinam et abscidantur, qui vos conturbant!

13Ὑμεῖς γὰρ ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε, ἀδελφοί: μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί, ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις.

For you were called for the purpose of freedom, brothers.  Not only for the occasion of freedom of the flesh, but on account of/through love serve each other.

“Freedom of the flesh” here probably (?) refers to the lack of circumcision, and the relaxing of the dietary and other restrictions placed by Judaism. I’ve said this before, but the implication that Judaism is somehow ‘slavery’ while following Jesus is ‘freedom’ is also pretty extreme.

13 Vos enim in libertatem vocati estis, fratres; tantum ne libertatem in occasionem detis carni, sed per caritatem servite invicem.

14ὁ γὰρ πᾶς νόμος ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται, ἐν τῷ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν.

For the whole law in one saying/expression/sentence  is fulfilled, in “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

14 Omnis enim lex in uno sermone impletur, in hoc: Diliges proximum tuum sicut teipsum.

15εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε, βλέπετε μὴ ὑπ’ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε.

But if you bite and devour each other, watch lest you are consumed by others.

“Bite and devour”: excellent rhetoric. Great image.

15 Quod si invicem mordetis et devoratis, videte, ne ab invicem consumamini!

16Λέγω δέ, πνεύματι περιπατεῖτε καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν σαρκὸς οὐ μὴ τελέσητε.

But I say, walk about in the spirit and the desires of the flesh will not be your final end. (you will not perfect/complete yourselves)

Note: here’s a great example of how a minor change in translation can deeply affect the meaning. “…will not be your final end” is very different from “you will not perfect yourselves.”  The first is perfectly correct, but it does not necessarily convey the same thing as the second.  The meanings definitely overlap, but it’s a case of how the meaning is taken.

16 Dico autem: Spiritu ambulate et concupiscentiam carnis ne perfeceritis.

17ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός: ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται, ἵνα μὴ ἃ ἐὰν θέλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε.

For the flesh desires (things) contrary to the spirit, and the spirit desires (things) contrary to the flesh.  For they lie against each other, so that what you might want you cannot do these things.

To this point, I have not made enosugh of the whole theme in Paul about the difference between the flesh and the spirit.  To the best of my knowledge, this distinction does not go back deeply into Jewish thought.  It is, however, part of Greek thought going back several hundred years before the time of the Christ; indeed, the distinction between body and spirit, or soul, is found in Homer.  In The Illiad, the spirits of the dead are sent speeding to Hades when slain; in The Odyssey, Odysseus calls up the spirits of his father, Achilles, and others by performing a blood ritual.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no real Hebrew/Jewish equivalent until a century or two before Jesus.  IOW, after the Near/Middle East had been under Greek rule, and Greek cultural influence for a century or more.

 For dualistic religions, the distinction between Good Spirit, synonymous with, or equivalent to Light, and Evil Matter, synonymous with, or equivalent to Darkness, is fundamental.  One of the earliest such religions was Zoroastrianism; there was a long string of successors, passing through the Gnostics at about the time of Jesus, and continuing on from him, culminating in the ancient world with Manicheanism.  Gnosticism represents a real challenge for historians; in its ‘pure’ form, Gnosticism is truly a completely distinct religion.  In more ‘dilute’ forms, it can combine with Christian beliefs and become a Christian heresy.  In both Paul and Mark we have points where these two writers intersect with Gnostic beliefs.  Paul’s insistence on the distinction between the good spiritual traits, and the sinful traits of the flesh is one such intersection.  What Paul says here is completely orthodox, but crank it up a notch or two, and it could easily cross the line into heresy, if not outright apostasy.

 This spirit/flesh dichotomy is one of the areas, IMO, that Akenson does not consider in sufficient depth.  He is very intent on putting Saul/Paul in the Judaic (Judahist, a term he coined, and which I find very useful and very descriptive), to the point that he gives short shrift—or overlooks completely—aspects of the Jesus faith that seem to come more naturally from the pagan world.  Yes, Jesus and his band were Jews, but by Akenson’s own admission (it’s a central point of his thesis, in fact), that could—and did—mean a lot of different things. That there were pagan influences on Judaic thought seemed fairly obvious to me as an undergraduate, studying Classics/Classical history.  Now, much of what I saw as the pagan roots of Christian thought weren’t necessarily there when the gospels or Paul’s letters were written, but accrued as Christianity became co-opted by Gentiles with Classical education, but some parts were, and the good spirit/bad flesh distinction is one of the most fundamental.

 BTW: it’s these 2000 years of accretions that we’re trying to remove in this study.

And why << ἀντίκειται >>?  Why not <<ἀντέστην >> as we saw in 2:11 above? Why ‘lie against’ instead of ‘stand against’?  Can’t answer that.  Makes one wonder if Paul had any sense of the Homeric echo in 2:11.  It would seem to be very fitting here, too.

17 Caro enim concupiscit adversus Spiritum, Spiritus autem adversus carnem; haec enim invicem adversantur, ut non, quaecumque vultis, illa faciatis.

18εἰ δὲ πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον.

For if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law.

This is really a confirmation of what has been said before.

18 Quod si Spiritu ducimini, non estis sub lege.

19φανερὰ δέ ἐστιν τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός, ἅτινά ἐστιν πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια,

For the works of the flesh are manifest (apparent, obvious), which are corrupt, unclean, and wanton,

Could you ask for a better clarification of how Paul views the ways of the flesh?

19 Manifesta autem sunt opera carnis, quae sunt fornicatio, immunditia, luxuria,

20εἰδωλολατρία, φαρμακεία, ἔχθραι, ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθείαι, διχοστασίαι, αἱρέσεις,

Idolatrous, drug-addled, enmity,

20 idolorum servitus, veneficia, inimicitiae, contentiones, aemulationes, irae, rixae, dissensiones, sectae,

21φθόνοι, μέθαι, κῶμοι, καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις, ἃ προλέγω ὑμῖν καθὼς προεῖπον ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν.

Jealousies, drunkenness, and the other things like this, I warn you, accordingly as I warned that those doing these sorts of things, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

We’ll take on the laundry list shortly.  Let’s talk about the Kingdom of Heaven.

In the letters that the consensus takes to be genuine Paul, the term is used a grand total of 8 times.  Six of these are in 1 Corinthians; the other three are scattered one each in Romans, here, and 1 Thessalonians.  This term, as far as I can tell, is never actually described, let alone defined.  It’s a good thing, but what and why is a tad vague.

21 invidiae, ebrietates, comissationes et his similia; quae praedico vobis, sicut praedixi, quoniam, qui talia agunt, regnum Dei non consequentur.

22Ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἀγάπη, χαρά, εἰρήνη, μακροθυμία, χρηστότης, ἀγαθωσύνη, πίστις,

The fruit of the spirit is love, charity, peace, blessedness, kindness, goodness, faith.

See comments at end of chapter

22 Fructus autem Spiritus est caritas, gaudium, pax, longanimitas, benignitas, bonitas, fides,

23πραΰτης, ἐγκράτεια: κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος.

Gentleness, self-control; against these sorts of things there is no law.

23 mansuetudo, continentia; adversus huiusmodi non est lex.

24οἱ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ] τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν σὺν τοῖς παθήμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις.

Those of the Christ [ Jesus ] have crucified the flesh with the vices and desires.

24 Qui autem sunt Christi Iesu, carnem crucifixerunt cum vitiis et concupiscentiis.

25εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι, πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν.

If we live in the spirit, we walk in the spirit.

25 Si vivimus Spiritu, Spiritu et ambulemus.

26μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι, ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι, ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες.

Do not become vain, calling out each other, being jealous of each other.

26 Non efficiamur inanis gloriae cupidi, invicem provocantes, invicem invidentes.

As mentioned in 5:19 above, this gives a pretty clear sense of how Paul sees the distinction between spirit (good) and flesh (bad).  I suppose I could go on, but I’m not sure to what purpose.  So maybe I oversold with my ‘see comments at end of chapter’ note above.

I guess the question to ask is how, or even if, the spirit is related to the Kingdom of God.  Those participating in the matters of the flesh, we are told, will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  So the obvious–or the logical–implication is that the kingdom is related to the spiritual virtues.  I guess my question would be, why the very limp connection here?  Why not make it more robust? That seems a tad peculiar.

And beyond that, let’s talk about chronology. The kingdom becomes a big theme in the gospels, which follow these letters of Paul.  Given that, and the fact that Paul makes more references to it in 1 Corinthians, can we take this to mean that 1 Corinthians comes after 1 Thess and Galatians? That the theme developed with time? So that Galatians was written before, and not after 1 Corinthians?

That may be a valid inference, logically speaking, but that doesn’t mean it’s convincing, let alone conclusive.

Galatians Chapter 5:1-10

And so we begin Chapter 5.

1τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν: στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε.

Therefore, stand in the freedom (into which) the Christ liberated us, and do not again take up the yoke of slavery.

Had to switch this around a bit to get it to make sense in English

More literarly, this would read:

In the  freedom (in/for which) the Christ liberated us, stand therefore and not again the yoke of slavery take up.

The slavery, essentially, would be to return to following the Law of Moses.  This continues the metaphor from Chapter 4, with the distinction between the heirs of the bondwoman Hagar, or of the free woman Sarah. Interesting choice of words: freedom vs slavery.  This is a pretty strong statement, indicating, it seems, a degree of repugnance for his former practices. Is that too harsh?  Remember he told us back at the end of Chapter 1 that he was noted for his zealousness as a Jew.  Now he’s referring to it—and not for the first time—as slavery.

See comments to 3:10 & 4:8.   

Does this give us any indication that the Galatians were Jews?  Not necessarily.  The distinction he’s making could just as easily be the distinction between the Judaizers—the James Gang and their followers—and preachers like Paul, or Paul, who believed it was not necessary to follow the Law as James & Co believed.  We are told of other gospels; that of the Jerusalem Assembly could easily be what is meant here.  So we don’t necessarily get any insight on whether the Galatians were Jews.

 Note: this could be a settled point among biblical scholars, and I could be simply wrong that there is even a question.

1 Hac libertate nos Christus liberavit; state igitur et nolite iterum iugo servitutis detineri.

2Ἴδε ἐγὼ Παῦλος λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε Χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει.

Therefore, I, Paul tell you that if you are circumcised, the Christ profits you nothing.

Here we go a step further.  The Christ profits you nothing if you follow the Law.  That’s a pretty strong statement, and it gives some insight why Jewish scholars have felt that Paul was one of the original sources of Christian anti-Semitism. 

2 Ecce ego Paulus dico vobis quoniam, si circumcidamini, Christus vobis nihil proderit.

3μαρτύρομαι δὲ πάλιν παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι.

For I attest again to all circumcised that the obligation is to do ( = keep) the whole law.

This sounds an awful lot like Paul is arguing against the Judaizers, the James Gang and their ilk.  The most likely reason he would be doing this is to convince his audience to follow him instead of the James Gang with their requirements to keep all of the Jewish Law.  In fact, this would help explain why he told the whole story of his meeting with the Jerusalem Assembly, and the concordat to which both parties agreed.  This gospel of the Jerusalem Assembly would then be the ‘other gospel’ to which Paul refers in Gal 1:5 (and subsequently).  These would be the people who ‘bewitched’ the Galatians in 3:1.

 So does this mean that the Galatians were Gentiles?  Would seem to.  Since circumcision seems to be an/the issue, this would only be—or most likely be—an issue for Gentiles.

3 Testificor autem rursum omni homini circumcidenti se quoniam debitor est universae legis faciendae.

4κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε, τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε.

You have been made useless from ( = for) the Christ, whoever is justified in the law, he has fallen out of grace.

Grace: this is a great example of a situation in which Paul’s words make sense in light of two thousand years of exegesis and the working out of a doctrine of Grace.  But we have to ask ourselves, if you take away all that we have learned since this was written,  is it completely clear what Paul means here?  I’m really not sure it is.  The REB translates this as “fallen out of God’s grace”, which obviously throws up and entire edifice of subsequent doctrine.

 Beyond that, Paul here is actively stating that followers of Jewish Law are out of God’s grace, whatever ‘grace’ happens to mean to him.  Whom does he include in this banishment?  The Jerusalem Assembly?  Is he peeved because they are not sticking to the agreement of the Synod of Jerusalem, and leaving the conversion of Gentiles to Paul?  That they are sticking their noses in where they don’t—in Paul’s opinion, anyway—belong?  It is very possible to read a certain level of anti-Semitism in this passage.  He’s gotten exasperated, so he’s, more or less, condemning the whole lot of them.

4 Evacuati estis a Christo, qui in lege iustificamini, a gratia excidistis.

5ἡμεῖς γὰρ πνεύματι ἐκ πίστεως ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἀπεκδεχόμεθα.

For we wait in the spirit the hope of justification by (from) faith.

The KJV, NASB, ESV, and NIV all capitalize “Spirit.”  This, I think, risks running off the tracks into fantasy, rather than sticking to the text. This is, IMO, exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. There is no reason to believe that Paul is talking about The (Holy) Spirit. He has been, consistently, talking about the difference between flesh and spirit. Here, we are told, one is to be justified while waiting in/by the spirit, as opposed to in the flesh, which is what the Law entails. Making this The (Holy) Spirit, is the back-reading of several hundred years of theological development.

Here, it seems that the implication is that faith is spiritual, and the Law is not.  As for what Paul thinks of things that are not spiritual, see verse 17 below.  That may be too clever by half, or be giving Paul credit for being too clever by half.

5 Nos enim Spiritu ex fide spem iustitiae exspectamus.

6ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία, ἀλλὰ πίστις δι’ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη.

For in the Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor non-circumcision is worth anything, but faith is working through love.

Notice: a few verses ago, he said that circumcision renders you useless for Christ.  How to square that with this passage?  The difference could easily be that above, he’s talking about those who accept circumcision as a necessary precursor to becoming a follower of Jesus.  Here, OTOH, he’s talking about those born into Judaism, as he was.  If it was your state from birth, well, there’s nothing to be done, and it’s irrelevant.  However, the warning is that one is not to accept circumcion as an adult in order to become a follower of Jesus.

 IOW, the Galatians are Gentiles.

<< δι’ ἀγάπης >> Greek famously has four words that can be legitimately translated as ‘love.’  The first, of course, is Eros; this describes erotic love.  Another is << φιλία >>, the ‘brotherly love’ that we encountered in 1 Thess 4:9; and, it’s the ‘brotherly love’ in the city of Philadelphia.  The third is << ἀγάπη >>.  The fourth is << χάρις / χάριτας >> and it doesn’t necessarily get translated as ‘love.’  We discussed this in relation to grace, doing a compare & contrast between ‘grace’, the Latin << gratia >> and << χάρις / χάριτας >>.  This, whether obviously or not, the root of “charity”.  In fact, it’s as much direct transliteration as root. In the old days, the translation of 1 Cor  [ ] was ‘faith, hope, and charity, the greatest of these being charity.’  Now, the last word is usually rendered ‘love,’ which throws a whole new slant onto the passage.

 But getting back to the word in this paragraph,<< ἀγάπη >>.  This excludes erotic love, and brotherly love, and, possibly, what we would call ‘charity.’  So, presumably, it would include all else, such as the love of a parent for a child.  That is probably the sense we encounter here.

6 Nam in Christo Iesu neque circumcisio aliquid valet neque praeputium, sed fides, quae per caritatem operatur.

7Ἐτρέχετε καλῶς: τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψεν [τῇ] ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι;

You ran well.  Who hindered you from the truth to be obedient?  ( who hindered you from being persuaded by = obeying/following the truth?)

Again, seems to be excoriating those who have gone over to the gospel of the James Gang.

7 Currebatis bene; quis vos impedivit veritati non oboedire?

8ἡ πεισμονὴ οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς.

The persuasion is not from the one calling you.

The argument of the James Gang, IOW, is not from God.  For God is the one calling them.

8 Haec persuasio non est ex eo, qui vocat vos.

9μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ.

A little yeast leavens the whole lump ( lit = ‘lump’, as in ‘lump of dough.’  Implication = ‘loaf’.)

Sort of saying, one bad apple spoils the bunch.  A little of this yeast of the Judaizers is enough to penetrate (and spoil?) the whole crowd.

9 Modicum fermentum totam massam corrumpit.

10ἐγὼ πέποιθα εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν κυρίῳ ὅτι οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε: ὁ δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς βαστάσει τὸ κρίμα, ὅστις ἐὰν ᾖ.

I have been persuaded towards you in the lord, that you think nothing else.  The one disturbing you will bear the judgement, whoever he is.

The verb << πέποιθα ( = πέιθω0 >> here is interesting.  In Classical usage, it means ‘to persuade’, or in the passive ‘to be persuaded.’  This definition holds for most of the NT as well, with, of course, the exception of Paul.  In Paul, it often means ‘to have confidence.’  This is what the Latin ‘confido’ shows.  One can see the logic behind the development, but it’s interesting how Paul—or his translators—have their own peculiar meanings of what are fairly standard Greek words.  But then, it’s exactly the words that get used the most that evolve the most.  Right?

“Whoever he is.”  Like Paul does not know?  Have the Galatians not ratted the guy out?  But then, it’s possible that Paul doesn’t know.  He’s writing in response to a development that occurred after he left the Galatians.  He has heard reports of some of the Galatians, at least, going over to the side of the James Gang, and he’s writing in response to this development.  So, the corruption having occurred when he was not there, he may not know who the corrupter was.

10 Ego confido in vobis in Domino, quod nihil aliud sapietis; qui autem conturbat vos, portabit iudicium, quicumque est ille.