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Lesson Six: Galatians 3:1-9

  • Page ID
    11491
  • Instructions: Translate the Greek text with help from the reader notes. Complete the MYON (Make Your Own Note) and Discussion Questions if you desire.

    1 Ὦ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ⸀ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ⸀προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος; 2 τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφ’ ὑμῶν, ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως; 3 οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε; ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε; 4 τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῇ; εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ. 5 ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;

    6 καθὼς Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. 7 Γινώσκετε ἄρα ὅτι οἱ ἐκ πίστεως, οὗτοι ⸂υἱοί εἰσιν⸃ Ἀβραάμ. 8 προϊδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γραφὴ ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοῖ τὰ ἔθνη ὁ θεὸς προευηγγελίσατο τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ὅτι Ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. 9 ὥστε οἱ ἐκ πίστεως εὐλογοῦνται σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ. SBLGNT

    3:1

    [SN, GMN]Γαλάται (MPV LF: Γαλάτης) is a #vocative of direct address. The vocative is sometimes identical in form to the nominative (as it is here), so one must rely on context to identify it. This noun is also a masculine first-declension noun, hence its “feminine” morphology (-αι/-ης).

    [LN] Ἐβάσκανεν (AAI3S LF: βασκαίνω) is a #hapaxlegomenon. It means “to bewitch” and is used in other Greek literature in reference to the practice of bewitching others with the “evil eye.” This background might explain Paul’s use of οἷς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς with the verb προεγράφη.

    [GMN, LN] Προεγράφη (API3S LF: προγράφω) is a #compound verb, combining the preposition πρό with the verb γράφω, and it occurs only four times in the New Testament (Rom 15:4; Eph 3:3; Jude 4). This form is an example of the uncommon second aorist passive, hence its missing -θ. In its other uses it seems to mean “to write beforehand,” but here it has the sense of “to portray.”

    [GMN] Ἐσταυρωμένος (RPPMSN LF: σταυρόω) is a #contract verb, and it can be identified as a perfect-tense participle by the ε (remember that aorist participles do not possess an augment).

    3:2

    [SN] Τοῦτο (NSA) is the direct object of μαθεῖν and refers to the phrase that follows (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου . . . ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως).

    [SN] Μαθεῖν (AAN LF: μανθάνω), “to learn,” completes the action of the main verb θέλω as a #complementary infinitive (“I want to learn”).

    [SN] Ἐξ ἔργων νόμου (#means) is contrasted with ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως (#means).

    [LN] Ἀκοῆς (FSG LF: ἀκοή) can refer either to the faculty of hearing or to a message/report (i.e., something that is heard).

    [LN] Πίστεως (FSG LF: πίστις) occurs twenty-two times in Galatians and can take various meanings from “trust/faith/firm persuasion” to “faithfulness/fidelity.”

    [SN] Ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως: There are multiple options for understanding the syntactical function of πίστεως, and part of the difficulty lies in whether we understand ἀκοῆς as “hearing” or as “message/report.” A few possibilities are #attributive genitive (“hearing with faith” or “faithful hearing”), #genitive of product (“hearing/message that produces faith”), or #genitive of content (“message about faith”).

    3:3

    [SN] The adverb οὕτως modifies ἐστε by either intensifying the predicate adjective ἀνόητοί (“are you so thoughtless?”) or by highlighting the manner in which ἀνόητοί is occurring (“are you thoughtless in this way . . . ?”). The second option relies on the participial clause to clarify the manner.

    [SN] The participle ἐναρξάμενοι (ADPMPN LF: ἐνάρχομαι) is #temporal modifying the verb ἐπιτελεῖσθε (“after/having started”) or #concession (“though you started”).

    [SN] Πνεύματι and σαρκὶ are both #datives of means.

    [SN] The #temporal adverb νῦν modifies ἐπιτελεῖσθε.

    [LN] Ἐπιτελεῖσθε (PMI2P LF: ἐπιτελέω) means “to complete.” It occurs ten times in the NT, including seven times in Paul.

    3:4

    [LN] The pronoun τοσαῦτα (NPA LF: τοσοῦτος) means “so many/much/great.”

    [LN] Ἐπάθετε (AAI2P LF: πάσχω) can mean either “to suffer” or, more neutrally, “to experience.”

    [LN] Εἰκῇ is an adverb meaning “without purpose” or “in vain.”

    [SN] The particles γε καὶ can be translated together as “indeed.”

    [SN]Εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ: There is no verb in this phrase; assuming an implied ἦν (“they were”) smoothes the translation (note that the neuter plural τοσαῦτα takes a singular verb). Alternatively, a repetition of ἐπάθετε could be implied.

    3:5

    [SN] The conjunction οὖν (“then/therefore”) introduces a logical connection between the question in 3:5 and the series of rhetorical questions in vv. 1−4.

    [SN]Ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν (PAPMSN LF: ἐπιχορηγέω) and ἐνεργῶν (PAPMSN LF: ἐνεργέω) are both #substantival participles, with the καὶ linking the definite article to both (“The one who supplies . . . and who works”).

    [SN] This clause has no main verb, so one must be inferred (“Does the one who supplies . . . do so . . . ?”).

    [SN] For syntactical options regarding ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως, see note on 3:2.

    3:6

    [SN] The adverb καθὼς functions as a #comparative conjunction in relation to the previous verse and is also linked to ἄρα in the following verse. Thus, καθὼς serves to link together the discussion of πίστις in vv. 5 and 7.

    [LN]Ἀβραὰμ is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Abraham. Many loan words do not decline.

    [SN]Tῷ θεῷ functions as the #dative direct object of the verb ἐπίστευσεν (i.e., πιστεύω takes its direct object in the dative case).

    [GMN]Ἐλογίσθη (API3S LF: λογίζομαι): Note that the true root ending of the verb is a #dental which drops out when a σ formative is added.

    [SN] Αὐτῷ is a #dative of advantage.

    [SN] The prepositional phrase εἰς δικαιοσύνην likely denotes #purpose or #result and is thus translated “as/unto righteousness.” Abraham’s status “as righteous” is the direct result of ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ.

    [TN] Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσεν τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην is a nearly verbatim quotation of LXX Gen 15:6 (Paul changes the name Ἀβραμ to Ἀβραὰμ and changes the word order from verb-subject to subject-verb).

    3:7

    [SN] Οἱ ἐκ πίστεως: The article serves to nominalize the prepositional phrase ἐκ πίστεως, making the whole phrase substantival. Lit. “the of-faith ones” (cf. 2:12 τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς).

    [SN] Υἱοί . . . Ἀβρααμ Although the proper name Abraham is not declined due to its Hebraic origin, one can assume that its syntactical function is as a genitive noun, specifically #genitive of relationship (“sons of Abraham”).

    3:8

    [GMN, SN] Προϊδοῦσα (AAPFSN LF: προοράω): The aorist form contracts πρό and εἶδον (the second aorist form of ὁράω) to form προΐδον. It is an adverbial participle of #attendant circumstance or, alternatively, #cause.

    [GMN] Δικαιοῖ (PAI3S LF: δικαιόω) is a #contract verb.

    MYON [GMN] Ἐνευλογηθήσονται: Parse this word.

    [LN, GMN] Προευηγγελίσατο (ADI3S LF: προευαγγελίζομαι) means “to bring good news/the gospel ahead of time” or “to ‘pre-preach’ the gospel.” Notice that the ε augment has been inserted before the γ, resulting in a contraction with α to produce η. Also, the final stem consonant ζ has dropped out to accommodate the σ formative of the aorist.

    [SN] Τῷ Ἀβραὰμ is the indirect object of the verb προευηγγελίσατο, with ὅτι introducing the #clausal complement to the verb, i.e., the entire ὅτι clause constitutes the direct object.

    [SN] Ἐν σοὶ could be expressing #means (“by means of/through you”) or #association (cf. v. 9, σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ).

    [TN] Ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη is a nearly verbatim quotation of LXX Gen 18:18. However, instead of ἐν αὐτῷ, Paul has written ἐν σοὶ, likely drawing from LXX Gen 12:3.

    3:9

    [SN] Οἱ ἐκ πίστεως: The definite article nominalizes the prepositional phrase (“those whoare of faith”) so that the whole phrase is the subject of the verb εὐλογοῦνται.

    [GMN]Εὐλογοῦνται is PPI3P (LF: εὐλογέω).

    [SN] Σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ communicates #association, considered a close or intimate association through the use of συν. Ἀβραάμ is indeclinable (see note on 3:6) but functions syntactically as a dative noun in the attributive construction τῷ πιστῷἈβραάμ.

    [LN] Τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραἀμ: The adjective πιστός means “faithful/trustworthy,” leading to the translation “faithful Abraham.”

    Discussion Questions (3:1–9)

    [3:2, 5] The noun ἀκοῆς can denote a message or the act of hearing itself. Does the immediate context give us clues for Paul’s meaning? How does our understanding of this word affect our reading of the passage?

    [3:4] There is some debate as to whether ἐπάθετε should be understood in a negative sense (“you suffered”) or a more neutral or positive sense (“you experienced”). Can the immediate context offer any clues as to the quality (positive/neutral/negative) and content of the Galatian believers’ sufferings/experiences?

    [3:7] Our earliest biblical Greek manuscripts do not contain punctuation. This means that translators have to rely on contextual clues and reasoning to identify when a question or quotation occurs. Therefore, it is possible to read γινώσκετε ἄρα . . . υἱοί εἰσιν Ἀβραάμ as a question. In this possible reading, Paul means to draw out the logical conclusion of his citation of Gen 15:6 (see Gal 3:6) by means of a rhetorical question. The argument would proceed like this: “Abraham was justified ἐκ πίστεως; would you agree then that the children of Abraham are those who follow this example?”

    What are the implications of this reading?

    Word Study: Πίστις (“faith/faithfulness”)

    Introduction

    Πίστις, commonly translated as “faith” and occasionally “faithfulness” in the New Testament, is at the core of Galatians’ theological message. The word is featured primarily in the third chapter, where it occurs fourteen times, but theologically significant uses of the word are also found throughout the letter.

    Meaning of Πίστις

    In its extrabiblical usage, πίστις indicates confidence such as one might place in an individual or institution.[1] Various Greek papyri point to a usage involving some variation of “good faith” or “good credit,” particularly in legal or contractual contexts.[2] Extrabiblical sources often use πίστις to convey the idea of trustworthiness, sometimes pairing it with ἀλήθεια.[3] Other meanings of the term in antiquity include “pledge,” as in something that is assured, or a “bond.”[4] With respect to the latter, in the Tebtunis Papyri and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, the word is used in connection to property that is held in a bond and land held in a mortgage. Underscoring the dimension of trust implied in the term πίστις, Teresa Morgan notes that this word is used in conjunction with the idea of mentally assenting to a proposition (“belief”), but it is not synonymous with the idea.[5] The Greco-Roman world used “thinking” and “knowing” language to express this idea of cognitive belief.[6]

    In the LXX, πίστις is used to translate the Hebrew ʾemunah or ʾemet. In their Hebrew Bible contexts, the former is translated as “firmness,” “steadfastness,” or “fidelity,” and the latter as “truth” or “faithfulness.”[7] Because the Greek text was attempting to express a concept originally articulated in Hebrew, it is important to consider the meaning of these words in their original language. The word ʾemunah is not “an abstract quality, ‘reliability,’ but a way of acting which grows out of inner stability, ‘conscientiousness.’”[8] The most common Greek translation for this word in the LXX is πίστις.[9] The word could relate both to humans and the divine, communicating an internal quality expressed in the world. Concerning ʾemet, this word was often used to convey truth and is thus expressed in the LXX as ἀλήθεια, but on occasion as πίστις as well. In its Hebrew context, however, there is much debate as to whether or not the word should be understood to mean “faithfulness” or if “truth” is the only sufficient translation for it.[10] Wherever one falls within this particular debate, it is clear that there was a semantic connection between the words in their Greek context.

    The meaning of “faithfulness” or “fidelity” is attested in sources like the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and the Fayum Towns Papyri, sources that date from the first to third centuries CE. The faithfulness or fidelity referenced in these sources is interpersonal in nature.[11]

    Paul and Πίστις

    In the Pauline corpus, πίστις has a basic meaning of “faith,” and sometimes expresses a state of belief based on the reliability of the object of faith.[12] For Paul, faith (or belief) in Jesus as the crucified and resurrected Messiah was a defining feature of the divine-human relationship.[13] This definition, however, does not necessarily preclude other definitions of the word, such as “faithfulness” and “fidelity” as previously discussed. New Testament uses of the word suggest development in its meaning, but not complete departure from other ancient understandings of the word.[14] However, πίστις is interpreted across Pauline writings, based upon its ubiquity, as central to Paul’s theological thought.[15]

    Πίστις is used in various syntactical ways that both shed light on, and create ambiguity about, its intended meaning. Sometimes, πίστις is used with a preposition indicating the object of the word (commonly εἰς and ἐν).[16] In Col 2:5, Paul discusses the steadfastness of the recipients’ πίστις, which is εἰς Χριστὸν.[17] Similarly, Paul uses expressions like πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ in Gal 3:26. With both of these prepositions, the meaning of πίστις is clarified, suggesting that for Paul, πίστις is a faith or confident belief that is expressed “in Christ.”[18]

    Paul’s most notorious uses of πίστις occur in genitive constructions. Because of the vast number of ways the genitive can be construed in Greek along with the polyvalence of πίστις, the meaning of this word in context has generated great debate, especially with regard to the understanding of πίστις Χριστοῦ.[19] Typically, the debate over this phrase centers on whether the genitive is understood as objective (“faith in Christ”) or subjective (“Christ’s faith” or “the faith[fulness] of Christ”).[20] One’s understanding of the noun’s syntactical function is related to the meaning one assigns to the πίστις. If the objective genitive is favored, πίστις tends to be understood as “a state of believing on the basis of the reliability” of the object.[21] If one prefers a subjective genitive, she or he will likely interpret the word as “the state of being one in whom trust is placed.”[22]

    Paul also refers to πίστις as a Christian virtue, something which those who follow Jesus possess, listed with other virtues such as ἀγάπη and ἐλπίς.[23] Examples of this usage are found in 1 Cor 13:13, Gal 5:22, and 1 Thess 3:6 (cf. Eph 6:23).

    Finally, πίστις may also function as shorthand to refer to the body of beliefs or teachings of the early Christians, as in Rom 1:5 and Gal 1:23.[24] Some suggest that other Pauline usages should be understood in this way as well (e.g., Gal 3:23−25; Rom 12:6), but this is more debated.[25] This latter meaning of πίστις is well-attested in post-biblical Christian literature.[26]

    Galatians and Πίστις

    The diverse uses of πίστις as previously described are on display in Galatians, in which πίστις serves as a key term. Because of its frequent and varied uses of πίστις, Galatians stands at the heart of debates in New Testament scholarship regarding its proper translation and interpretation.

    One of the most contentious questions that arises is how to understand the phrase πίστις Χριστοῦ. Paul uses the phrase πίστις Χριστοῦ and another similar phrase three times in Galatians (Gal 2:16 [2x]; 3:22). Rudolf Bultmann and others unequivocally understand the use of the word in this context as an objective genitive meaning “faith in Christ.”[27] For them, faith in this context is a human activity, an intellectual assent to a particular proposition.[28] Others, however, have argued that πίστις Χριστοῦ, as it is used in Galatians, is best understood as a subjective genitive meaning “the faithfulness of one man Jesus Christ.”[29] This understanding of πίστις within these occurrences does not preclude Bultmann’s understanding of the term being applied in other contexts.[30]

    With respect to Paul’s other uses of πίστις in Galatians, 2:16 and 3:2−5 place πίστις in contrast with ἔργα νόμου.[31] More specifically, though, Gal 3:2−5 discusses ἀκοῆς πίστεως. Given the polyvalence of πίστις, it could be understood here either as “the message which evokes faith” or “the message of the faith.”[32] According to Bultmann, the two are seen as antithetical to one another, as πίστις comes from an act of the will while ἔργα νόμου is work that one accomplishes.[33] In these passages, it is πίστις−not ἔργα νόμου−by which the Spirit and the divine blessing of δικαιοσύνη are given.[34]

    One of the more puzzling uses of the word occurs in Gal 3:7 in the phrase οἱ ἐκ πίστεως. Often this is translated as “those who believe” or “those who have faith.” However, based upon its immediate context as well as allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures surrounding the passage, Hays suggests that the phrase is better translated as “those who live out of faith” or, more boldly, “those who are given life on the basis of Christ’s faith.”[35] David deSilva also disagrees with common translations but suggests that πίστεως is best understood to refer to “trusting [in] Jesus” as opposed to Hays’s “Christ’s faith.”[36]

    Other uses of πίστις in Galatians mirror the ways the word is used across the New Testament. In Gal 5:22, πίστις is listed as a Christian virtue along with six others including ἀγάπη.[37] Paul also suggests that the presence of πίστις in one’s life will be made manifest in ἀγάπη (Gal 5:6).[38] Gal 1:23 seems to objectify πίστις, using it to describe the whole of Christian teaching or belief. Similarly, the occurrence in 6:10 (τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως) suggests that the word became shorthand for the Christian movement.[39] Finally, 3:23−26 suggests that Paul understood the “coming of faith” as a phenomenon which took place in history, perhaps as another shorthand for the establishment of the fledgling church. (Julianna Kaye Smith)

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