Galatians words and notes (2)

[This is the 4th in a text-based series on Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  The entire series, which includes other types of posts as well, may be accessed through this link.]  wpid-2013-02-19_17-22-52_366.jpg

Below are some additional, selected textual notes on Galatians, following up on yesterday’s first list.  These are representative of my  notes made from consultation of works of Robertson, Fay, Witherington, and others, and from personal study.

  • 4:13-15 — it must be a visible flesh-ailment — likely the eyes (or possibly head, neck, hands, lower legs/feet, which would have been typically visible in this age).  If eyes, it speaks of a Galatian act of supreme kindness:  the eyes were considered most valuable of all organs. cf. 5:11 “large letters.”  Whether eyes or not, it is a “weakness of the flesh,” i.e., not a fever or demon or some internal condition.
  • 4:14
    • nor rejected (ουδε εξεπτυσατ). First aorist active indicative (basic, single-action past tense) of ekptuw, an old word meaning “to spit out” (Homer), to spurn, to loathe.  Found here only in the NT.   Clemen (Primitive Christianity, p. 342) thinks it should be taken literally here since people spat, as a prophylactic custom, at the mere sight of invalids, especially epileptics.  But Plutarch uses the word of mere rejection.
    • “As an angel of God” (ως αγγελον θεου), as Christ Jesus. In spite of his illness and repulsive appearance, whatever it was.  Not a mere, generic “messenger” of God here, but a very angel, even as Christ Jesus.  Cf. Acts 14:12, Lystra — Paul at first welcomed as Hermes, god of oratory.  However, that narrative is hardly conceptually applicable here in Gal (due to antagonism from Jews from Antioch in Pisidia and Iconium).  -Robertson
    • Possible word-play with αγγελον (angel) — possibly refers to famous story of Phrygian hill country in which there were consequences of not welcoming (or alternately welcoming) the gods when they came incognito (Ovid’s Metamorphoses 8:626ff)
    • Acts 13-14 “welcomed as a messenger of God” “More to the fore perhaps is the fact that Paul has just exhorted them to become as he is, namely Christlike, and now he is reminding them of how they treated him ‘as Christ Jesus’ when he first visited. In short, these remarks are meant to strengthen the appeal for imitation.” – B. Witherington
  • 4:19
    •  I am in travail (ωδινω). I am in birth pangs. Old word for this powerful picture of pain. In N.T. only 3x:  here, 4:27 and Revelation 12:2.
    • “Until Christ be formed in you” (μέχρις οὗ μορφωθῇ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν) — future temporal clause with mexri ou (until which time) and the first aorist passive subjunctive of morpow, late and rare verb, in Plutarch, not in LXX, not in papyri, only here in N.T. This figure is the embryo developing into the child. Paul boldly represents himself as again the mother with birth pangs over them. This is better than to suppose that the Galatians are pregnant mothers (Burton) by a reversal of the picture as in 1 Thess. 2:7.  – Robertson
  • 4:28 — “but you, brothers, according to Isaac of promise children (tekna) are” — cf. the wording of 3:29
  • 4:30 — Cast out (ekbale).  Second aorist active imperative (basic past tense without focus on results of the action) of ekballw.  Quotation from Genesis 21:10 (Sarah to Abraham) and confirmed in Genesis 21:12. Strong negative (ou me with future indicative). “The law and the gospel cannot co-exist.”
  • 5:1-12
    • 1-6 sets out declaration of liberty
    • 7-12 are a more free, “collection of pointed remarks, rhetorical questions, proverbial expressions, threats, irony, and a joke of stark sarcasm” (-Witherington)
  • 5:1
    • 5:1b is either the end of a section, transitional, or beginning of new section. No transitional particle to connect it to preceding and (probably) uses dative case unusually.  Many textual variants.  Possible English readings include these:
      • For freedom Christ has set us free. (NET)
      • It was for freedom that Christ set us free; (NASB)
      • It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (NIV)
      • Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, (KJV)
      • We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. (NCV)
      • Christ has set us free to live a free life. (MSG)
    • The expression “for freedom” is a “dative of goal, destiny or purpose” — e.g., C.K. Barrett.  In other words, our freedom is the goal/purpose of Christ’s having set us free.
    • This grammatical construction also found in “sacral manumission procedures” of Ancient East
    • Be not entangled again (μη παλιν ζυγω). “Stop being held in by a yoke of bondage.” Common word for ensnare by trap. The Judaizers were trying to lasso the Galatians for the old yoke of Judaism.  “Yoke of slavery” strongly implies the “different gospel.”
  • 5:7 — Compare 5:12 imagery “cut in on” — see also 1Thess 2:17 — “late verb” but possibly early, intentional uses by Paul — both very negative.  Wigram has “incision” as a secondary meaning. “Cut or strike in, hence, to impede, interrupt, hinder; incision, e.g., a trench cut in the way of an enemy.”
  • 5:10 — Subjunctive (tense of possibility/contingency/uncertainty).  It seems unlikely that Paul knew precisely who the leader of the Judaizers was.
  • 5:12 — Phillips and others have another possibility, based on Jewish law that excludes the castrated eunuch–that the Judaizers (doubly ironically! -bc) would be completely cut off from the Galatian Christians.  In other words, the ones who want to require cutting to be part of the church would, Paul says, “cut themselves off” from the whole organic church, and in doing so, would be doubly cut.  In other words, they would be cut off metaphorically from the church and also castrated symbolically, thereby cutting themselves off from Judaizers, too.
  • 5:16
    • peripateite — walk in step (also a key term in 1Thess — another early letter).
    • ου μη τελεσητε — strong double negative — you will really not fulfill the flesh
  • 6:1 — trespass (paraptwmati).  Literally, a falling aside, a slip or lapse in ancient papyri (rather than a willful sin).  Koine word, also in Polybius and Diodorus.
  • 6:2 a) “Keep on bearing” — present active imperative of bastazw, old word, used of Jesus bearing his Cross in John 19:17.  Or b) fulfill — Some MSS have future indicative (anaplhrwsete) — this variant reading is very uncertain.  Others have first aorist active imperative.
  • 6:7-8 Longenecker says the hortatory unit is self-contained in 6:7-8.  1) introductory formula, 2) proverb, 3) maxim, 4) Paul’s explanation – flesh-spirit dichotomy.  The import of this oft-quoted (and often generalized, perhaps falsely) passage may be that God’s just, covenantal plan must not be mocked: Spirit/Promise/Faith must be the course. 
  • 6:15 — καινη κτισις — query:  what might this expression “new creation” mean here, considering the book-level context?
  • 6:16 — What is the Israel of God”?  I have long thought it was obvious that this expression had nothing to do with old Israel, but could there be a duality here?  Could the expression refer jointly to those Gentile believers who “line up” (stoichesousin) in thinking no circumcision matters, and also the Jewish believers, i.e., if they are really of God  in following promise, spirit, new covenant?
  • 6:17 — old word from stizw, to prick, to stick, to sting.  Slaves had the names or stamp of their owners on their bodies. It was sometimes also done for soldiers. There were devotees also who stamped upon their bodies the names of the gods whom they worshipped. In a round-up, cattle are given the owner’s mark. Paul gloried in being the slave of Jesus Christ. This is probably the image in Paul’s mind since he bore in his body brandmarks of suffering for Christ received in many places ( 2 Corinthians 6:4-6 ; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ), probably actual scars from the scourgings (thirty-nine lashes at a time). If for no other reason, listen to me by reason of these scars for Christ and “let no one keep on furnishing trouble to me.”


Coming next:  Mini-structural elements (chiasmus and more) in the Galatians text.  

For more detailed insight into the minutiae of Galatians words, try Robertson’s Word Pictures, available free on the WWW.

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