A Sample Passage from the Comments on Galatians:



1. O senseless, unreflecting and foolish Galatians! Who suddenly harmed you with malicious words, or bewitched you folks with the evil eye – before whose eyes Jesus Christ was graphically placarded (= as though portrayed in writing before your own eyes) one having been crucified on a stake?


The rhetorical device that Paul uses in the first clause of his question is the castigation of the opponents and their message. He places them as 1) adversaries who "harmed [them] with malicious words" – which may be a reference to their teachings – and 2) those who deal with witchcraft: "bewitched you folks with the evil eye." These are the two main meanings of baskaino . Paul is probably using irony here, not meaning it literally except for the first (and oldest) meaning: cause harm with unfavorable words. A paraphrase of "cunningly deceive" is likely to be his meaning, although as a rhetor he may be intentionally exaggerating their situation – as though someone had actually cast a spell on them that they would pay any attention to these folks who would use this kind of pressure to get them conform to Jewish customs.


The last clause refers to the time of the Galatians initially being presented with the message of goodness, ease and well-being which came into being through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He is indicating that the proclamation of the good news was clearly given to them. Ann Nyland suggests that Paul is using a play on words: the "evil eye" and "portrayed before their eyes" (The Source New Testament, ibid. p 356 n 4). "Placarded" refers to the practice of announcing news to the public by means of posting a notice in a common area that would catch their attention. The picture of the true and complete evangel had been clearly written out for them: Christ (the Messiah) crucified – and nothing more. The death of the Messiah symbolized the death of Israel and of the old covenant. In fact it signaled the end of natural Israel and religious Israel (John 4:21). Simeon had prophesied of Jesus that,

"This One continues lying down into the midst of a fall, and then a standing back up again, of many people within Israel – and into a SIGN being constantly spoken in opposition to, and being repeatedly contradicted!" (Lu. 2:34).


From his statements about the Law, above, we now see that he has put the Law in the arena of the occult – something that God condemned under the Law: they are operating apart from God, for God's "camp" has moved on (referencing the wilderness journey of Israel). In fact His present called-out covenant community has figuratively "crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land."


2. This only am I intending (wanting; purposing; willing) to learn from you people: Did you receive the Spirit (or: get the Breath-effect; take in hand the Attitude) forth from out of works of Law, or from out of a hearing of, and which is, faith

(or: from the midst of faith's hearing; or: from a hearing that arises from faith; or: out of a listening which has the qualities and characteristics of trust and confidence)?


So now he calls them to task: How did they "receive the Spirit (get the Breath-effect; take in hand the Attitude)"? Did this happen from observing the Law, or did it come to them "from out of a hearing of, and which is, faith?" Here I have rendered the noun faith as both a genitive of source, and as apposition. In this latter, the hearing IS the impartation of faith. In the parenthetical expansion I give faith as a genitive of possession, of source and of quality/character while rendering pistis as "trust and confidence." The question is rhetorical, of course. They know the answer, but Paul is calling to their attention the situation of their beginnings as covenant communities. As with the discussion regarding Abraham which follows, below, his point is that through the proclamation of the Christ crucified they had "heard" God and in this manner had received the Spirit as an impartation from the Father – the Spirit of Promise which was the clear identity marker that the new age had come; the Messiah now reigned as Lord. The Day of Pentecost was a clear demonstration (Acts 2).


3. Are you so senseless, unreflecting and foolish? Being folks making a beginning inwardly by spirit (or: in breath-effect; by [the] Spirit; with [the] result of [the] Breath) are you folks now being progressively brought fully to the goal (being totally finished, perfected and brought to your destiny) by flesh (or, as a middle: are you now continuing to accomplish completeness in yourselves in, or with, flesh)?

[note: Paul is using the word “flesh” here as a figure for “works of Law” (vs.2, above), with its circumcision, animal sacrifices, etc.; for other religions it would refer to “religious works” of those particular systems (including Christianity, in the following centuries)]


In his next rhetorical question I have given three meanings of anoe tos (from a-nous: without a mind or intellect; lack of understanding): senseless, unreflecting and foolish. He is not being easy on them, but is piling up amazed wonder at their reception of these Judaizers. Then he asks another probing question: If they had made their beginning "inwardly by spirit (or: in breath-effect; by [the] Spirit; with [the] result of the Breath)," are they now going to live their lives under the old covenant with its outward performances of ritual Law observances? Will this totally finish and perfect them in the maturity of their destiny? Is the old religion the means of "being progressively brought fully to the goal?"


The verb epiteleisthe is either passive (the bold rendering) or middle (the parenthetical option). The preposition epi that is prefixed to the main verb acts as an intensifier, giving the meanings of "fully, or totally." The present tense shows that Paul is referring to their progression through life, or along the Path (in Christ).


God had breathed into them, and they became living souls of the new creation. Their end cannot come via a flesh-system or a works-religion. Lynda Mitchell called to mind here, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). The intent of the new covenant in which Christ is in them and they are in Christ is to bring humanity to the goal: to be true image-bearers of God that accurately reflect His glory of love and grace.


Covenant inclusion is the result and the effect of God's breath into humanity – each one in his own class or order (1 Cor. 15:23). It does not happen because of ANY outward act – neither circumcision nor baptism. There are no longer any identity markers in the realm of flesh. The identity markers are the fruit that we bear (Lu. 6:44), which is the natural, divine production of the new creation (the Vine) – the Man of the Spirit – the Christ within both the body and the individual.


4. Did you folks experience or suffer so many things randomly, for no cause or purpose – if in reality [there] even [is] "for no cause," or "by random happenings"?


This next rhetorical question demonstrates the connection of their experiences and sufferings (persecutions) with the purposes of His reign and sovereign activities. His image-bearers follow the cruciform Path, carrying their own execution stakes behind Him (Matt. 16:24). One of the purposes of His execution was to tear down the old sacrificial system with its worship and life-way cultus. Paul continued in the progressive process of tearing it down (2:18, above). The church's sacraments are a rebuilding of what was torn down – they are fleshly and religious attempts to bring humans to the goal (Christ) and to include them in the covenant by means of a symbolic ceremony, just as the Jews had done under the old covenant.


The experiences and sufferings of life are for a cause and have purpose. This is one of the greatest encouragements of this life. "So then (or: Consequently), the Death is repeatedly operating and inwardly working within us, yet the Life [is constantly operative] within you folks" (2 Cor. 4:12). There is a connection between the two, for we – the one body – are joined and connected (cf 1 Cor. 12:26-27). We show the world His great love by laying down our lives for our friends and neighbors (e.g., the "good Samaritan"). Things do not happen randomly.


5. The One, therefore, continuously furnishing and supplying to (or: for; in) you folks the Spirit (or: the spirit; the breath; or: = attitude and vitality), and constantly and effectively energizing, being active, working and producing abilities and powers within you people – [is its source] from out of works of Law, or out of a "hearing" whose source is faith,

(or: The one, then, constantly supplying the Breath-effect for you folks, and repeatedly working powers among you – [does he do it] from out of deeds based on [the] Law [= Torah], or from out of faith's attentive listening,)


"The One" here is God. Now note the present tense in the verbs in this verse. They signify an unbroken connection and relationship between the communities and God. They signify union with God, for the people and the communities are God's house within whom He dwells. In 1 Cor. 6:19 Paul informs the Corinthians,

"Or, have you folks not seen so as to know that your body is a temple of the set-apart spirit (or: a sanctuary belonging to the Holy Spirit; a holy place and a holy of holies which pertains to the Sacred Breath; or: that the body, which is you folks, exists being a divine habitation which has the qualities and characteristics of the Holy Attitude) within the midst of you (or: in union with you folks) – which you people constantly hold and progressively possess from God?"


The pronouns "your" and "you" are plural, while the word "body" is singular, here. He is speaking of the corporate body – which has many members (1 Cor. 12:12). God is "continuously furnishing and supplying to, for and in [the Galatian communities (and ours)] THE SPIRIT" which gives Life to His called-out folks. The picture here is that of branches being continuously supplied nourishment for growth through the flow of the sap which comes from the Vine (John 15:1ff). He is also "constantly and effectively energizing, being active, working and producing abilities and powers within [them]." Here we see indwelling, participation and union. This was the state of their spiritual existence, so now he poses another rhetorical question: did this new creation, this new union and relationship, this new realm of being come about "from out of works of Law, or out of a 'hearing' whose source is faith just as [with] Abraham?" The answer is obvious: from a hearing that came from an injection of faith – just as with the case of Abraham, as Paul continues to say in vs. 6.


It is God that is doing the work within and among them, while producing abilities and powers within and among them – why should they need to add ritual or ceremony to this new natural existence in Christ?


Guthrie points out,

"The verb used here is also used by Paul in 2 Cor. 9:10 and Col. 2:19, and the corresponding noun in Eph. 4:16 and Phil. 1:19, in all of which instances there is the idea of abundant supply. In Phil. 1:19, the notion is applied as here to the Spirit" (ibid. p 93)


The second, parenthetical rendering offers some alternate meanings of some of the Greek words and gives en as "among," with the plural pronoun "you." This presents a corporate focus of the verse. The Breath-effect is constantly being supplied "for" them and repeatedly works "among" them. The Life that is given with the Breath of God produces abilities and powers within the covenant community. The faith that came through hearing the message from Paul had produced attentive listening, which in turn gave the Spirit's leading (Rom. 8:14) to the group – implanting them within the new covenant, the olive tree, the Vine.


6. just as Abraham, "trusts in God (or: believed by God; experienced confidence with God), and he is/was at once logically considered by Him [that he had come] into a right relationship (or: and it was counted for him into a rightwised [covenantal] relationship with freedom from guilt, equity and justice which comprise the Way pointed out)"? [Gen. 15:6]


Here again, "God" is in the dative with no expressed preposition in the text. So we see that "Abraham [upon hearing God's words] believed BY God, and so trusts in God, and then experienced confidence with God." "In" expresses the local dative – the location. This means that Abraham was "in the sphere of and was located in" God, which engendered trust in Him. These circumstances (which God initiated and produced) then produced the faithful response TO God that was "logically considered BY [God]" as being "a right relationship TO God." Thus it was "counted for him INTO a rightwised [covenantal] relationship... which comprises the Way pointed out (which equals Christ: 'the sphere of God which sustains and supplies the rightwised life' – Lynda Mitchell)."


Faith and trust, in response to God, are fruit of His Spirit being within humanity. They are called forth when He focuses on us, just as when the sun warms the tree in springtime. When the proper season and fitting situation (the kairos) arrive, the tree automatically blossoms due to the flow of the sap in the branches (which sap comes from the Root and Trunk). I recall my mother often saying, "You don't just pin apples to a tree." The sap is analogous to the Spirit (I owe this analogy to my father). We, the branches, produce God's fruit (fruit of the Spirit). His nature abides within us in this new creation. The coming of the Spirit gave life to what was dead; it aroused the seed that was asleep within our earth; it caused the sap to flow within the plant.


The evidence (from the blossoming to the ripe fruit) of faith and trust are counted as a rightwised relationship (one born of covenant union) – they "comprise the Way pointed out which frees us from any sense of guilt and creates in us the presence of fairness, equity and justice." This is dikaiosune (often called "justification"). This existence is "abiding in the Vine of covenant." You see, Christ IS the new covenant – the new arrangement that God has made.


Paul further develops this understanding of Gen. 15:6 in Romans ch. 4.


7. Be assured consequently, by your experiential knowledge and insight, (or, as an indicative: Surely you are coming to know) that the folks [springing] forth from out of the midst of faith (or: whose source is trust and confidence), these are Abraham's sons!


Thus it is that we can be assured that we are in the same category as Abraham – we are his sons: those who have the qualities and characteristics that were recognized in (and "counted" for) him. We have sprung "forth from out of the midst of faith." God's faith, implanted within us, gave birth to sons of faith (figuratively termed here as sons of Abraham).


"Like every Jew, Paul regarded Abraham as the key figure in the history of mankind.... [and] a 'son of Abraham' could mean: an Abraham-like man" (Harvey, ibid. p 606).


Now let us consider this verse in the context of Paul's ongoing forensic presentation to the Galatians. In vs. 5 he assures them that the gift of "the Spirit" came to them through the medium of faith (equivalent to the new covenant, in Paul's arguments) – and not through old covenant Law. Vs. 6 ties Abraham's faith, and God's covenant with him, to the means of being included in this covenant of the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) – which is rightwised living in God's kingdom. And now in vs. 7 we see that the folks (both Jew and Gentile) whose source is trust and confidence are, in fact, "Abraham's sons." This would mean that they are thus heirs of the promises made to Abraham, which included the nations of the ethnic multitudes being blessed through him and his Seed. The case that Paul is building continues in vs. 8


8. Now the Scripture – seeing before [as a picture] that God is progressively putting the nations in rightwised relationship (setting the ethnic groups of non-Jews into the Way pointed out and freeing them from guilt) from out of faith – announced to (or: for) Abraham beforehand the message of goodness, ease and well-being

(or: And further – the Scripture perceiving in advance and making provision that He is presently making the multitudes fair and equitable {or: = including the Gentiles in the covenant} from trust and conviction as a source – God brought-before in Abraham the glad tidings of goodness {a gospel; an evangel}), namely that,

"All the nations, ethnic groups and multitudes will be inwardly blessed (will receive the Word of wellness, within; will participate within the Good Word) in a union with you (or: within you; in you; or: = in relation to you; or: = as in your case)." [Gen. 12:3; 22:18]


This is a curious picture: Scripture (the body of written Logos) both saw and perceived – Scripture is being personified here. In seeing, it also made provision for the work of God: the progressive "putting" (which is the "work" of God – He did it in Christ) of "the nations (ethnic multitudes; Gentiles) in rightwised relationship (= covenant inclusion of the Gentiles in a rightwised relationship to God and to others). And all this was "from out of the faithfulness, trust and faith" of Jesus in His work on the cross. It also may have been that Paul had heard the oral tradition of Jesus having said to the Jews, i.e., the religious authorities,

"Abraham, your father, was exceedingly glad (or: exulted) to the end that he could see My day, and he saw (caught sight of; beheld; observed; perceived) [it] and then was graced (or: favored; or: rejoiced; was made glad)" – John 8:56.

Scripture announced and brought to Abraham – in the age before the age of the Law – the very message of goodness, ease and well-being that would be embodied in the Messiah. "This is clearly more than exegesis of the Genesis passage. It is a reappraisal of the original promise in the light of the coming of Christ" (Guthrie, ibid. p 96). Within Abraham's Seed (the Messiah) "All the nations, ethnic groups and multitudes will be inwardly blessed (will receive the Word of wellness, within; will participate within the Good Word) in union with [Abraham]." The verb that would normally be rendered "be blessed" has the preposition en prefixed to it, thus the added word "inwardly" – this is an inward work of the Spirit. Consider as well the option "will receive the Word of wellness, within," or the option "will participate within the Good Word." Don't miss the passive voice of this verb: it will happen to them – they have no part in it happening.


So keep in mind the fact that God is doing the acting, and He is "presently making the multitudes fair and equitable, and is freeing them from any sense of guilt." "Justification" is God "putting (folks) in the Way (Christ) that He has pointed out and turning them in the right direction."


9. So then, those from out of faith (or: = folks who are derived from trust and confidence and who come from a place of loyal allegiance) are being constantly blessed (repeatedly given the Word of wellness; continuously made to participate in the Good Word) together with the full-of-faith Abraham (or: the trusting, believing, convinced and loyal Abraham).


This "those" includes the wild olive branches – the Gentiles, or non-Jews – being grafted into the cultivated olive tree (Rom. 11:17) among the remaining branches that were not broken out (the believing Jews). It is a work of God, not of a human.


Paul uses the normal verb for "blessed" here, without the prefix en, but from vs. 8 we understand that it is an inward blessing as folks who are derived from Christ's trust, confidence and loyal allegiance receive the Good Word into their hearts. They are engrafted into the olive tree whose roots are Abraham – the one that was filled with faith from God's Word to him. Observe the present tense of the verb: constantly, repeatedly, continuously – and probably progressively – blessed. This verb is also passive: the action is happening to these people.


Again Paul has driven home his point of the blessings of Abraham coming by faith and trust – not by the Law. See the short study on "The Rich Man and Lazarus" at the end of these comments on Galatians.


10. You see, however many people continue their existence from the midst of observances and works of Law (= Everyone who lives by deeds and actions based upon the Torah) are continuously under a curse (a negative, down-focused or adversarial prayer; an imprecation), for it has been and now stands written, namely that,

"A curse (or: an adversarial prayer; imprecation) [is settled] upon all (or: [is] added to everyone) not constantly remaining within all the things having been and standing written within the scroll of the Law [= Torah], in order to do them." [Deut. 27:26]


If our existence derives from the old covenant – the Torah, the Law – we continuously exist under a curse, for it stands written in this Deuteronomy text that the folks under the Law must "do (practice; perform, produce) them." This statement was inclusive of the whole Law when given by Moses to Israel, and it remained inclusive unto the close of that age – with the coming of the Messiah. Paul quotes the LXX that has the word "all" twice, as here. We cannot pick and choose what we think should apply from the Torah. The curse (adversarial prayer; imprecation) comes from not doing all the words that are written "within the scroll of the Law." This means the whole Torah. To bring any part of the Torah into the new covenant is to bring in the curse upon those who are instructed to follow ANY of it. Paul used this same phrase "works of Law" in vs. 2 and 5, above, in leading up to this serious announcement in his arguments to the Galatians. Paul is in effect saying that those under the old covenant (and anyone who would insert something from the old into the new) exist under this curse.


I gave a paraphrase of the first clause to aid in understanding what the Greek is saying. If a person bases their way of living upon what the Torah says, they come under all the curses listed in Deut. 27:14-26 and 28:15-68. It would be advisable to read those passages before deciding to put the ten commandments on your walls or public places as the guide for righteous living.


11. Now [the fact] that within [the] Law no one is in process of (or: in union with [the] Law or some legal practice or custom is no one normally) being rightwised (put in right relationship; made just, fair, equitable, set free from guilt, or, placed within the Way pointed out; also: = made a covenant member) at God's side (or: with God) [is] clearly visible and evident, because,

"the fair and equitable man (the one in right relationship within the Way pointed out; the just one) will live from out of faith (or: the one [who is] just from out of faith, trust and conviction, will live)," [Hab. 2:4]


No one is being rightwised at God's side – no one (neither Jew nor Gentile) is included in the new covenant or placed in the Way – WITHIN (or: in union with the) Law, i.e., within the old covenant that is based upon the Torah. The Law has no part in the new covenant. It no longer is a way to be in right relation with Yahweh, nor with other people. The new inclusion is via Jesus Christ's faith and faithfulness.


The only "fair, just and equitable Man" is Jesus Christ. Only by being in Him – being joined to and abiding in Him – are we "living from out of faith and trust" and having His faith-life as the source of our living.


12. yet the Law is not (or: [Torah] does not have its existence) [springing] forth from out of faith and trust, but to the contrary,

"the one ‘doing and performing’ them shall be living [his life] within them (or: in union with these things)." [Lev. 18:5]


Again Paul contrasts the Law, or Torah, with faith and trust. The Law does not have faith and trust as its source. It is an existence of "doing and performing" which defines and delineates its path. The faith that is based upon Promise is a life lived in the Spirit and which came to us via the life, death and resurrection of Christ. He inaugurated a new arrangement that is based upon our life in Him, not our performing or doing the works of the old covenant.


13. Christ bought us [back] out (or: redeems and reclaims us out by payment of the ransom) from the midst of the curse (or: adversarial prayer; imprecation) of and from the Law, while becoming (or: birthing Himself to be) a curse (or: accursed One; an [embodied] adversarial prayer) for our sakes (or: over our [situation]) – for it has been and now stands written:

"A curse (an adversarial prayer) [is settled] upon all (or: [is] added to everyone) continuing hanging upon a tree (or: wood; a stake or pole)" [Deut. 21:23, omitting the phrase “by God,” after the word “curse”]


The Law's curse had enslaved them – and thus the need for redemption. Christ came into the midst of this curse on behalf of their condition. And so,

"You see, even the Son of the Man (or: And so, the Son of humanity, as well,) did not come to be given attending service, but to the contrary, to give attending service, and further, to give His soul (or: soul life) [as] a ransom payment – for unbinding and release – for, as, in the place of, and thus on behalf of and which corresponds to, many people." (Mark 10:45)


The curse of the Law was death (the wages of sin or failure was death), so He died as Israel, and "as many people." The last phrase of this verse in Mark uses anti, and one of its meanings is "as." The blessings of Abraham were extended to all the nations, so Paul saw that He in fact died as the first Man, the first Adam (1 Cor. 15:45, 47). With the Gentiles being grafted into Israel's olive tree (the life and source of the Anointing – Rom. 11:17), the work of the Messiah applies now to us, as well. This was God reconciling us to Himself and freeing us from death since we non-Jews were far off and estranged from the life of the covenant, as Paul says in Eph. 2:

12. that (or: because) you were, and continued on being for that season (or: in that appointed situation), apart from Christ ([the] Anointed One; = [the] Messiah): people having been alienated from the state of being a citizen (or: estranged from citizenship in the commonwealth) of Israel and [being] strangers pertaining to the arrangements of (or: foreigners from covenants and testamentary dispositions whose origin is) The Promise (or the assurance), continually having no expectation (or: hope), and [were] folks without God (or: godless; atheists) within the ordered System (world of culture, religion and governments).

13. But now, within and in union with Christ Jesus, you – the folks once being (continuously existing) far off (or: at a distance) – came to be (were birthed; are generated; are suddenly become) near, immersed within and in union with the blood of the Christ (the Anointed One).


Paul has used the phrase of Deut. 21:23 to connect Christ's death with a symbol for the curse of the Law. His hanging upon a tree, or pole, fulfilled the payment that ransomed humanity from slavery to the Law, and His resurrection brought humanity into freedom (5:1, below) from the bondage to failure and sin. As the Last (eschatos) Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) Christ became a life-giving Spirit – giving life in the spirit to a dead humanity.


His word-pictures are set in the scene of Israel's history, but his conclusions are the news about Christ's birth from the grave (which became a womb) which he elsewhere describes as a new creation: the life of the Age of the Messiah, and an arrangement where all humanity is one (Eph. 2:14).


"Christ's death on the cross rendered him an accursed thing; yet Christ was shown (by the resurrection) not to be accursed in God's eyes, but on the contrary righteous. Thus, by Christ, the law was discredited, and along with the law that [traditional] legalistic interpretation [by the Jews] according to which it was thought that the blessing of Abraham could be extended only to the Jews" (Harvey, ibid. p 608; bracketed insertions mine).


14. to the end that the Good Word (the Blessing; the Word of wellness and goodness) pertaining to Abraham (belonging to and possessed by Abraham; whose intermediary source is Abraham) could within Jesus Christ suddenly birth Itself (or: may from Itself, within Christ Jesus, at once come into being [and be dispersed]) into the multitudes (the nations; the ethnic groups; the Gentiles), so that we [note: "we" = the new "one" mankind?] could receive the Spirit's promise through the Faith

(or: to the end that we [all] may take in hand the Promise from the Breath-effect, through trust; or: in order that we [Jew and Gentile] can lay hold of and receive the Promise – which is the Spirit – through faith and conviction).


The purpose of our being redeemed and reclaimed from out of the curse of the Law was so that the Good Word (blessing; word of well-being) that was promised to (and pertained to) Abraham could suddenly birth itself and come into existence within Jesus Christ – and from Him be dispersed into the ethnic multitudes (non-Jews), so that we all, as one new humanity (the Second Humanity – 1 Cor. 15:47), could receive the Spirit's promise that was made to Abraham. "[T]he Faith" to which Paul refers here is the faith and faithfulness of Jesus Christ "through" which it came to us. The Abrahamic covenant was a unilateral covenant: a promise made by God, who said that HE would do it.


The parenthetical expansion of the last phrase informs us "that we [all] may take in hand the Promise [God's Spirit – Lu. 24:49; and Acts 1:4, 'the promise which is the Father'] from the Breath-effect, through trust." This last phrase reads tou pneuma as an ablative, expressing the Spirit as the source of the Promise. "The Promise which is the Spirit" expresses this same phrase as apposition. Note that here I have suggested that "we" means "[Jew and Gentile]."


So to "receive and take hold of" the Promise, all mankind had to be "bought [back] out from the midst of the curse of and from the Law" (vs. 13, above). This would have applied "to the Jew first, and then to the Greek." That curse was death.


Harvey (ibid.) points to the dual meanings of the word diathe ke which was used in the LXX in the particular case of the covenant, or arrangement, made by Yahweh with Israel, but which also had a secular meaning of "last will and testament." Paul takes up this second meaning as he begins the next phase of his arguments in vs. 15.


15. Brothers (= fellow believers; family), I am now speaking humanly (in accordance with and on the level of mankind; = with an illustration of common human practice). Like with the situation of a human settled arrangement (or: will; contract; covenant; or: will and testament deed of gift): [when] existing as having been validated (authoritatively confirmed; legally ratified; publicly affirmed), no one is proceeding to displace it (to annul it; to set it aside) or modify it or add stipulations (super-add an injunction; add a codicil; introduce additions or arrangements throughout it).


Here his rhetoric takes the form of "an illustration of common human practice." He sets before them "the situation of a human settled arrangement, a will, a contract or a deed of gift." He points out that once it is "validated, authoritatively confirmed and legally ratified or publicly affirmed," no one can "displace it, annul it, set it aside, modify it, add a codicil or introduce additions or arrangements throughout it."


This kind of legal transaction from existing customs becomes the basis of the following arguments. With this in place, he reaches back into Israel's history to a time before the Law came into being and before Israel was a "people" or a recognized nation.


16. Now the promises were declared (said; spoken) to (or: for; in) Abraham, and to (or: for; in) his Seed (Descendant). It (or: He) is not saying, "And to the seeds (descendants)," as upon many, but rather, as upon One, "And to, for and in your Seed," [Gen. 12:7; 13:15; etc.] Who exists being Christ (or: which is [the] Anointed One [= the Messiah]).


Now he picks up his theme of "the promises" that were made "to (or: for; in) Abraham, and to (or: for; in) his Seed (Descendant)." Making an issue of the singular form of the noun "seed" in Gen. 12:7, 13:15, etc., he boldly states that this "Seed" is Christ, the Messiah. Harvey instructs us that the rabbis study their Scriptures from different methods of interpretation:

"In the so-called 'allegorical' method of interpreting Scripture, which Paul occasionally

adopted (see below on 4:24), the hidden or 'spiritual' meaning of a text was held to be at

least as important as the literal meaning. One of the signs which was believed to indicate the presence of such a hidden meaning was a noun occurring in the singular when a plural noun might have been expected (or vice versa)" (ibid.)


Israel had long awaited the coming of the Messiah, but the Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus as being the one that had been promised. Paul, however, had affirmed to those in Galatia that the Messiah had indeed come in Jesus, and now he reminds them that He is the Promised Seed (vss. 14, 16). If the Messiah has come, then the awaited age had begun and all has changed.


17. Further, I am now saying and meaning this: the Law [= Torah], being that having come into existence after four hundred and thirty years, is not invalidating (depriving of authority; annulling) into the situation to idle-down (render ineffective, useless, unproductive or inoperative) the Promise – a settled arrangement (contract; covenant; will and testament deed of gift) existing as having been previously validated (confirmed; legally ratified) by, and under [the authority of], God!


In vs. 17 he builds upon the history of Yahweh's relationship with Abraham. This was the basis of the unilateral covenant and the origin of the promises. "[T]he Law [= Torah]... having come into existence AFTER... is not invalidating, or making inoperative, the Promise" which was "a settled arrangement, a contract, a will and testament, a deed of gift." What had been inserted in the interim between the creation of the "settled arrangement" and the death of the testator (God, in Christ) could not in any way alter God's covenant with Abraham. The point that he is making is that cultic works of the Law cannot displace the faith brought by the Spirit, and cannot make the new covenant dependent upon the rituals of the Mosaic arrangements, nor upon any part of the Torah that had to do with the Law.


18. For if the inheritance (the possession and enjoyment of the distributed allotment) [is] from out of Law [= Torah], [it is] no longer from out of Promise. Yet God has Himself graced [it] (has for Himself, in favor, freely granted [it]), so that it now stands as a favor of grace, to (or: for; in) Abraham through a Promise (or: because of a promise).


In this verse Paul distinguishes between an inheritance based upon the Law and one based upon Promise: the two are mutually exclusive. If this life in Christ is dependent upon aspects of the Law, then it is not any part of the Promise. These contrasting scenarios neither overlap nor do they mix.


Next, Paul inserts the component of grace, favor and gratuity, so that "it now stands as a favor of grace, to (or: for; in) Abraham through a Promise (or: because of a promise)." The result is that the Good Word (the blessing) comes to the ethnic multitudes (the nations; the non-Jews) apart from the Law as a freely granted gift that was based upon God's promise to Abraham.


19. Why, then, the Law [= Torah] of The Transgressions? It was at one point set aiming at, and thus provided a view to, grace and favor [D, F, G & others read: It was appointed for (or: set {beside}) grace]

(or: Why, then, the Law? It was placed close and applied {imposed; added} on behalf of the walks to the side of [the path]; or: What, therefore [is] the Law [= Torah]? Something set, as a favor, face-to-face with the over-steppings and transgressions to the side of and beyond [the Way]) – being precisely arranged and thoroughly prescribed and mandated by injunction through means of agents (or: messengers; folks with the message) within the midst of [the] hand of a mediator (or: in an umpire's hand; within [the] hand of an arbitrator or an intermediary in a middle position) – as far as to where (or: until which place or time) the Seed would (or: should) come, to Whom and for Whom the promise had been made (or: in Whom He had been promised).


Paul anticipates his audience's questions and objections to what he has just said, above, with another rhetorical question. As a good rhetor he immediately gives the answer before his opponents can make their points: "It was at one point set aiming at, and thus provided a view to, grace and favor..." The alternate MSS readings give a paraphrase: "It was appointed for, or set beside, grace." This recalls Paul's statement in Rom. 5:20,

"Now Law and custom at one point entered in alongside (or: came into the situation by the side) to the end that the effect of the fall to the side (or: so that the result of the offense and the stumbling aside) would increase to be more than enough (should greatly abound and become more intense). But where the Sin (the failure; the divergence and missing of the target) increases (or: abounded to be more than enough; becomes more intense) THE GRACE ("the act producing happiness, which is granted as a favor" – Jim Coram) at once super-exceeds (or: hyper-exceeded) over and above, surrounding to excessive abundance and overflow."


It was set as a contrast, and was to be a dark, shadowy backdrop to the grace that was to come in Jesus Christ. These renderings set the Law apart from grace, indicating that it was just a sign post that was set to point away from itself to the grace of the promised Seed.


The optional parenthetical renderings are also instructive:

"Why, then, the Law? It was placed close and applied (added; imposed) on behalf of the

walks to the side [of the path];

"What, therefore, [is] the Law? Something set, as a favor, face to face with over-stepping

and transgressions to the side of and beyond [the Way]."

The Law both defined and confronted transgressions. It was on behalf of people's failures and weaknesses, and was set as a favor to deal with them until the time of the arrival of the Promised Seed. It was "precisely arranged and thoroughly prescribed and mandated by injunction."


This arrangement was made "through means of agents (or: messengers; folks with the message) within the midst of [the] hand of a mediator (or: in an umpire's hand; within [the] hand of an arbitrator or one in a middle position)." These agents were Moses, Aaron, the priests and other folks (later, e.g., the prophets) to whom God may have given the message. Moses was the first mediator, followed by Joshua and the various judges. These agents mediated God's Law to Israel, from Moses to Malachi.


This arrangement was only "as far as to where (or: until which place or time) the Seed would (or: should) come, to Whom and for Whom the promise had been made (or: in Whom He had been promised)." It was only in effect until the coming of the Messiah.


Thus, Paul describes the Law (and the cultic works associated with it) as parenthetical in the history of the Promise which began with Abraham and was fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ. The whole existence and history of Israel lasted only during this parenthesis – and was tied to the Law that created it.


"The law furnished a norm by which transgressions were produced (cf Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 5:13, 14, 20; 7:7-12)" (Samuel J. Mikolaski, The New Bible Commentary: Revised, ibid. p1098). "Paul has been arguing that salvation depends neither on physical descent from Abraham, nor on obedience to the (subsequently enacted) law, but only on faith..." (Harvey, ibid.).


20. Now there is no mediator of one (= when one person is concerned or is acting alone). Yet (or: Now) God is One.

[note: to make a promise, one is sufficient – there is no need for a middleman]


There was no middle position between God and His promise. The Promise was not mediated through agents. God provided the Seed and He is the Promise. The implication from Paul's point is that since there was no intermediary involved with the Promise, then the Promise is superior to the covenant that came through the Law.


21. Is the Law, then, following the pattern of (or: down from; or: down against; or: on a par with; commensurate with; corresponding to) God's promises? May it not happen (It could not come to be; = Of course not)! For if a law (or: [the] Law) were given which continued having power or being able at any point to make alive (to construct or create living folks; to engender living ones; to impart life), really, the fairness and equity in right relationship (the rightwised qualities of justice and freedom from guilt within the Way pointed out; also = covenant inclusion) were likely being from out of the midst of [the] Law [= Torah; other MSS: residing within law].


The various renderings of this rhetorical question derive from the semantic range of the preposition kata: following the pattern of; down from; down against; on a par with; commensurate with; corresponding to. To each of these the answer is "NO!" – or as Paul says, "Of course not!" In fact, there is no association between the Law that was given to Israel and the promises that were made to Abraham. Why? Because the Law had no power or ability to "make [folks] alive." Now if it had been able to, then the fulfillment of the promises would likely have come from the Law. But this is not the case.


Guthrie makes a good observation about the final clause in relation to the "if-clause" concerning law, "righteousness is shown to be the counterpart of 'life' in the if-clause" (ibid. p 106). Thus, the eonian life ("that they may progressively come to intimately and experientially know You, the only true and real {or: genuine} God – and Jesus Christ, Whom You send forth as an Emissary" – John 17:3) came with the promised Messiah (the Way, the Truth and the Life – John 14:6) and it is manifested in the covenant communities.


The alternate reading of other MSS, "residing within law," would say that neither the power to engender life nor the true Way of fairness and equity (rightwised relationships; righteousness) were inherent within the Law.


22. But to the contrary, the Scripture encircles and encloses [as fish in a net] all things, shuts them up together and locks the whole (the totality of everything) under (or: by) failure (error; deviation; the missing of the target; sin), to the end that the Promise would (or: could) suddenly be given to (or: in; for) the folks habitually trusting (or: progressively believing with faith's conviction) from out of Jesus Christ's faith

(or: forth from the midst of the faith whose source and origin is Jesus Christ; from the midst of the trust and conviction which is Jesus Christ; or: so that the promise [which comes] forth from Jesus Christ’s trust, can at some point be given to the people presently having convinced assurance).


And here Paul emphasizes that the hypothetical supposition in vs. 21 is not the case by his words, "But to the contrary." The rest of this first clause "encircles... under (or: by) failure (etc.)" once again personifies Scripture and calls to mind Rom. 11:32,

"For you see, God encloses, shuts up and locks all mankind (everyone; the entire lot of folks) into incompliance (disobedience; stubbornness; lack of being convinced), to the end that He could (or: would; should) mercy all mankind (may make everyone, the all, recipients of mercy)!"

The imagery in both of these verses is that of a prison (and Christ came to set the prisoners free – Lu. 4:18). Guthrie notes that "By personifying Scripture the apostle reveals his estimate of the activity of the Word, which derives its authority from the activity of God" (ibid. p 107).


The second clause begins with the purpose conjunction, hina, "TO THE END THAT..." just as Paul did in Rom. 11:32. The Promise equates to "making everyone the recipients of mercy." But for Paul's forensic rhetoric, here, he is showing that the Law encloses everyone in slavery to failure and a missing of the target and goal of being image-bearers of God, and so to return to Law in any way would strip folks of the freedom that Jesus purchased for them. The new arrangement is a habitual trusting and a progressive believing with faith's conviction which has its source in Jesus Christ's faith and faithfulness.


The optional renderings of the final phrase give more insights into the beauty of Christ's work for mankind. One gives the phrase as apposition: "from the midst of the trust and conviction which is Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ IS the faith and trust that comes to us as the Word, and that Word is spirit and life. The whole last clause can also read, "... so that the promise [which comes] forth from Jesus Christ's trust, can at some point be given to the people presently having convinced assurance." This means that the proclaimed message of Jesus Christ crucified enters people, endowing them with the faith which the Word embodies, and brings them into covenant relationship with the Father and forms called-out communities of the body of Christ that has been brought to birth by the coming of the Spirit.


With each of these alternate translations, Christ is the One that is the source of peoples' faith, and it is His faithfulness to the Father (on the cross) that gives folks the faith and trust to believe what He has accomplished for humanity. The Promise (Christ) is given to those who He equips and endows with His own faith and trust. The faith is the form and substance of the Christ that is given – the faith is the promise that makes people the children of Abraham and which injects them into the new covenant.


All people sin because of death, as Paul said in Rom. 5:12,

"in this way The Death thus also passed through in all directions (or: came through the midst causing division and duality; went throughout) into all mankind (or: into the midst of humanity; or: to all people), upon which [situation and condition], all sinned (or: everyone fails and misses the target, falls short of the goal, makes mistakes and deviates from the goal)."

And then we see,

"Now Law and custom at one point entered in alongside (or: came into the situation by the side) to the end that the effect of the fall to the side (or: so that the result of the offense and the stumbling aside) would increase to be more than enough (should greatly abound and become more intense)..." – Rom. 5:20a.

Thus, none can receive the Promise (Christ) and the Blessing through means of Law – it must be received through Jesus Christ's faith and faithfulness, which is the source of their believing and having His confidence.


23. So before the [time, or, event for] the Faith to come (or: prior to the coming of this trust, assurance and conviction), we were being continuously confined and held in custody under the watch of a guard, being folks constantly encircled, enclosed, shut up and locked together by and under Law, [with a view to, aimed and moving] into the Faith and Trust being about to be unveiled (or: revealed; disclosed),


Take note that "the Faith" CAME! Before it (He; Christ) came we were "in a world of hurt" being "continuously confined and held in custody under the watch of a guard, being folks constantly encircled, enclosed, shut up and locked together by and under Law..." So – and this is Paul's implied point – why would people want to return to that former condition? This applied specifically to the Jewish believers that he is addressing, but the Gentiles were no better off (as 4:8-10, below, may be implying). He is stacking up one point after another to prove to the Galatians that these Judaizers are totally wrong in their intents for the Gentile believers.


We should not miss the connection of "sin and failure" to the "Law" in vss. 22 and 23, for each verses uses the same verb about being "constantly encircled, enclosed, shut up and locked together." Recall that "the power and ability of the Sin [is] the Law" (1 Cor. 15:56).


Now let us consider the last dependent clause, "[with a view to, aimed and moving] into the Faith and Trust being about to be unveiled (or: revealed; disclosed)." Here my bracketed insertion expands the idea inherent in the Greek preposition eis. This echoes the first clause of vs. 19, above: the Law was "set aiming at, and thus provided a view to, grace and favor." The Law was not the Faith and Trust, and it did not give Faith and Trust. This came with the birth of the Son of God who

"receiving (or: taking; accepting) a slave's form (external shape; outward mold), coming to be (or: birthing Himself) within an effect of humanity's (mankind's; people's) likeness." (Phil. 2:7) [note: see the article "What was The Form of a Slave" at the end of the comments on Philippians in my book, Peter, Paul & Jacob]

What was "about to be unveiled, disclosed and revealed" was the Spirit of Christ that was given to humanity following Christ's resurrection. This Faith and Trust was, in fact, Christ Himself being unveiled and disclosed through the proclamation of the Good News.


Parker Voll discusses the implications of the present participle of the verb mello (to be about to, be on the point of) that we find in the last clause of this verse:

"... I would argue that if we pay close attention to both the larger and the immediate context, Paul is making the case to the Galatian people in particular that their receiving of the Spirit was initiated through the process of hearing by faith, and until that point they, like everyone before them, were 'shut up' under law. But it so happened under God's providence that Jesus' faith did come into the world while they were alive, and so they became the initial beneficiaries of the faith which was 'about to be revealed' to them – the Galatian people to whom Paul was writing. This makes sense of the 'we' pronoun in the verse, as well as the surrounding verses, especially verse 25.... It makes no sense that Paul has an idea of 'we' in mind other than himself and his contemporaries, in which case the to-be-revealed faith Paul is talking about in verse 23 is relevant to his audience, which means that in context he is talking about a faith that was to be revealed in an imminent fashion – to them. Thus we see that mello here has a meaning of timely imminence.... [and] gives a time-context to infinitive verbs (which, by nature, lack a time context), and it is always pointing towards some action that is concrete, and subsequent (or future) to a relatively previous status quo, or event" (The Greek Column; Mello: A Greek Word Study, Part 2, Fulfilled! Magazine, Vol. 7, Issue 3, p 13; emphasis original).


24. so that, consequently, the Law (= Torah) had come to be (had been birthed into existence) and continued being our supervising guardian and attending escort [with a view to, aimed and moving] into Christ, to the end that we could (or: would) be made just, fair and equitable (rightwised; turned in the right direction and placed in right relationship within the Way pointed out; freed from guilt; also = included in covenant) from out of faith, conviction and trust.


In this verse Paul further describes the Law's place and function in God's plan for blessing all the nations (the ethnic multitudes). It came to be (was birthed into existence) at Sinai, and continued with Israel as their "supervising guardian and attending escort." Escort to where? Into Christ! Note the preposition that Paul used here. It is not pros (toward, facing), but eis (into; into the midst of). It is a preposition of motion that leads to entry. And thus does Paul often speak of our being "in, within, in the midst of" (en) Christ. En is the goal of eis. We saw this preposition eis in vs. 23, above.


The Law escorted Israel through its history unto the coming of the Anointed One, into the midst of participation in Christ by some of the olive tree's branches. It could not give us life, but it brought humanity into the new age by its crucifying of Israel's Messiah, and then its function ceased. Christ is the new age. He is eonian life which lasts throughout the ages and has the qualities of Christ. It brought humanity to the place in history where the Promise (Christ) was given to humanity ("THE MANY" of Rom. 5:15, 19) and the nations were included in this covenant.


Notice the corporate language that Paul has used in this passage, starting with the universal expression "the whole (the totality of everything)" in vs. 22, above, the "we" in vs. 23, 24, 25, the "you folks" of 26, 27, 28 and 29. The pattern and type displayed in Israel being dealt with as a corporate people in the OT finds its fulfillment in the establishing of a new creation in the new covenant.


25. So now with the coming of the Faith and Trust, we no longer continuously exist (or: are) under [the] supervising guardian or an attending escort [comment: = the Law; Torah]!


Once again Paul speaks of "the coming of the Faith and Trust," which equates to the coming of the Messiah. Faith and Trust had now come, in Him, not to just a favored person but as a blessing to all humanity. It is the ability and power of His Spirit within the community and within the individual that make it possible to be faithful. But here Paul hammers in another point in this progressive argument: "we no longer continuously exist under [the] supervising guardian or an attending escort." As I commented above, this means that we are no longer under the control or effects of the Law or the Torah – it should have no effect upon anyone. Paul expands this argument in chapter 4, below, using the same metaphor of the escort.


So if this is the new reality, taking up any part of the Law is error. The new is complete within itself.


26. For you folks are all [i.e., Jew and non-Jew; male and female; slave and freeman] God's sons, through the faith resident within Christ Jesus (or: by means of the trust in union with an Anointing from Jesus)!


Here he takes a stronger stand. We are not just sons of Abraham – folks endowed with faith – but we are "God's sons." In Rom. 8:14 Paul defines God's sons as being

"as many as are being continuously led by God’s Spirit (or: are being habitually led in [the] Breath-effect which is God; are being progressively led with an attitude from God)."

This reference to God's Spirit means that he is referring to those who have been placed in the new covenant. One can only be led by God's Spirit if he or she is "in Christ," is joined to the Head, and abides in the Vine. Being "God's sons" means being in a different status in God's family: no longer a minor under the influence of the supervising guardian (the Law), as 4:1-7 will point out, below.


The faith and trust that is "resident within Christ Jesus" is only accessed by being within Christ Jesus – i.e., in the new covenant, the new creation, the new humanity of the Spirit. All of this points to the cross, the resurrection, and the giving of His Spirit. The parenthetical rendering gives en as "in union with" and translates christo as "Anointing," which is in the dative case. But the name Jesus is in the genitive/ablative, and so we have "an Anointing from Jesus" that brings the inner union.


We should not miss the inclusive word "all" that he adds to the plural "you folks." In the kingdom communities, everyone is "one new humanity" (Eph. 2:15), with no distinctions. The duality has ceased to exist; there is no more division, no more "us and them."


27. For you see, as many of you folks as were immersed into Christ, at once clothed yourselves with Christ (or: were plunged into so as to be enveloped by then saturated and permeated with Anointing – or, the Anointed One – instantly entered within and put on [the] Anointing)!


Here he is speaking to the corporate communities: "as many of you folks as were immersed into Christ." This is the "entry into Christ" to which he referred in vs. 24, above. The verb is passive, plural. These folks had been "plunged into Christ so as to be enveloped by, and then saturated and permeated with, the Anointing – or, the Anointed One." The "instant entry" is an expression of the punctiliar action of the aorist tense. For a more complete development of this theme see Rom. 6:3-11.


Being immersed into Christ is equivalent to "cloth[ing] [our]selves with Christ." We are clothed with that into which we have been immersed. The verb "to clothe" literally means "to enter in." The picture created by Paul's metaphor is of a person "stepping into" a long cloak or a seamless gown. He uses this same metaphor in Rom. 13:12, Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:12f. In Rom. 13:14a he says,

"but rather, you folks must clothe yourselves with (or: enter within and put on) the Lord, Jesus Christ, and stop (or: do not continue) making forethought (constructing provision; planning ahead; performing provident care) into excessive desires of the flesh."

Here Paul has specified entering into a close relationship with Jesus, as though He were a garment. What is admonished is the antithesis of what Paul tells them to stop doing. From this, Guthrie contends that "... the metaphor conveys an essentially new kind of life. Everything now has to be related to Christ" (ibid. p 110). The garment of His righteousness (cf Rev. 19:8) is what people will see as we manifest Him to the society at large.


28. Within [Him; us], there is not (there does not exist) Jew nor Greek (or: Hellenist); within, there is not (does not exist) slave nor freeman; within, there is not (does not exist) male and female; for you folks all exist being one within Christ Jesus (or: are all one person in union with an Anointing from Jesus).


"Gal. 3:28 is more than just an idealistic statement. It makes clear that the Christian community would have neither socioeconomic nor gender nor culture requirements for entry or continuation in the body of Christ" (Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ben Witherington III, William B. Eerdman's Publishing Co., 1995, p 201).


This verse gives the details of the social aspect of the "all" of vs. 26, above. Note that he begins this verse with "Within" – in the interior of a human, or in the makeup of a corporate body – "there is not (there does not exist)..." racial, ethnic, cultural, social status, or sex categories or distinctions. You see, "the kingdom of God is within." Outwardly these distinctions continue. But not in the realm of the Spirit; not in the new covenant. The word within reflects the verb "to be" (eimi) prefixed by the preposition en-, and the central meaning of the verb is "to exist (or, be) within."


The term "Greek" was a common term among Jews for the non-Jews, especially in Hellenistic cultures. This is a corporate verse, as we see from the last clause, "for you folks all exist being one within Christ Jesus." They were "all one person" – the corporate Second Human; the last (eschatos) Adam that has Jesus as the Head to whom all are united. "The full force of the masculine gender of heis (one) should be retained, for the idea is not of a unified organization, but of a unified personality" (Guthrie, ibid. p 111). The last phrase here is, in Greek, identical to the last phrase in vs. 26, above, and thus vs. 28 both echoes and expands vs. 26.


The new has come, the old distinctions are gone – within covenant community economy, and within God's plan and dealings. Humanity is one and God is no longer dealing with any favored nation. The reign, kingdom and sovereign activity of God are "within."


29. Now since you folks belong to Christ (or: have [the] Anointing as your source and origin; or: So since you people have the qualities and character of Christ, and [are] that which is Christ), you are straightway and consequently Abraham's Seed: heirs (possessors and enjoyers of the distributed allotment), down from, corresponding to and in the sphere of Promise!


In the first clause, "Christ" is in the genitive case. Therefore I first rendered it as a possessive, "belong to," and then rendered christou as "[the] Anointing" and expressed it as an ablative (source and origin). Next I rendered it as a genitive of character and quality, and finally as apposition, "that which is Christ." We belong to Him – He is our owner; the Anointing of His Spirit is our source and origin (in this new creation); we have the qualities and character of Him, and we are Christ in the earth today – we are His body; His image-bearers.


This all means that corporately (and individually) "[we] are straightway and consequently Abraham's Seed: heirs (possessors and enjoyers of the distributed allotment), down from, corresponding to and in the sphere of Promise!" No longer slaves, but sons and heirs! Therefore, in us all the families and the nations (ethnic multitudes; swarms of humanity) are being blessed because of our union with Christ and His Spirit within us who we dispense to the world through the lives that we live.


This is the climax of Paul's arguments, up to this point. In the following chapter Paul expands on the concept of being an heir in contrast to being slave, and uses these analogies for comparison to existence in the old covenant – versus existence in the new.




1. Now I continue saying, for (or: upon [the length of]) as much time as the heir (the apparent possessor of the distributed allotment) is progressing from being an infant to a minor (one having either no ability, or no right, to speak; = continues being under legal age) he continues essentially differing nothing from a slave, [though] continuously being owner (lord and master) of everything (of all),


We cannot be certain about from which cultural tradition Paul draws in making this analogy of a young son growing into manhood. Whether it be Hebrew, Roman or Greek does not really matter. The point is in what he says in his description of an heir-apparent when he is still a minor.


This position of immaturity he compares to slavery – the opposite of freedom – but also indicates that this condition and the attending circumstances are not the final situation, for he is to be "owner, lord and master of everything (all)." Even though not existentially living as such – due to his young age – Paul describes his destiny as sure: he is "continuously being" what he will in time existentially manifest. Having seen above Paul's associating freedom with the new covenant, and slavery with the old, we get a glimpse of where he is going with this.


2. but further, he exists being under those to whom the trust is committed (guardians; ones entrusted with control and right to turn upon their charges) and house managers (stewards; administrators) until the father's previously set [time or situation].


During this "essential slavery" of immaturity, the father has set trusted guardians and house managers in place for the household's and the son's benefit. In following Paul's line of reasoning up to this point, we might suspect what he will say explicitly in vs. 5, below: the guardian and house managers are a figure for the Law and its attendants (the priests and the prophets).


Now this situation, regarding the son, was not meant to continue after the Mature Son had been placed in His destined position in the household (of God). It was to continue only "until the Father's previously set time or situation." (I have purposely used capital letters to draw your thinking into the situation to which Paul is speaking) Then things would change: He would be free from the guardians and house managers (the old arrangements) – free from the Law, the priesthood and the prophets. From this time on, the Father would say,

"This Man continues existing being My Son! The Beloved One (or: The One exemplifying and expressing My love) within Whom I think good thoughts (or: in Whom I imagine thoughts of wellness and ease; in Whom I appear well; in Whom I approve and of Whom I have a good opinion). Make it a habit to listen, to continue paying attention, and then to [really] hear Him (implies: obey Him)!" (Matt. 17:5).


This calls to mind Paul's thoughts in 1 Cor. 13, as well,

10. still, whenever the destined goal (the mature person; the finished product; maturity; the complete attainment of the purpose; perfection) should (or: may) come, that which is out of a part (a piece; a portion) will be rendered useless and unproductive (idled-down to be inactive, unemployed or discarded).

11. When I was an infant (a baby; a non-speaking one), I used to babble and make vocal utterances as a non-speaking infant. I used to habitually be in the frame of mind, take thought with the intellect and understand as a non-speaking infant (baby). I continued taking account, reasoning and logically considering things as a non-speaking infant. Yet when I had come to be an adult male, I had permanently made inactive (idled-down so as to be no longer used and discarded) the things which pertain to a non-speaking infant (infantile things).


3. Thus also we ourselves, when we were progressing from infants to minors, we continued being folks having been enslaved under (or: by) the System's elementary principles (the rows, ranks and series of the organized system of culture, economy, government in secular society and religion, as well as of the world and universe; or: the rudimentary things pertaining to the cosmos).


Here Paul inserts "we ourselves" into the cultural setting which he has just set. He includes the Galatians in the "we," but the context behind this immediate context is the Law. He uses a more generalized term stoicheia that would refer both to the Law's elementary and rudimentary principles (things meant for children, not for adults) as well as the "organized grid-work of the system of culture, economy, government and religions" of the Greek and Roman cultures that enslaved the non-Jews of Galatia. Both Jew and Gentile were enslaved to their religions and their societies – and so it is today, outside of the kingdom (which is not of this dominating organized-system). They were like the minor son in a Great Household of the universe. Maturity from the Breath-effect had not yet come to humanity. Heaven had not yet been joined to the earth.


The NEB gives a footnote for stoicheia: "the elements of the natural world, or elementary ideas belonging to this world." Some of these latter could refer to superstition, philosophy or astrology.


4. Yet when the effect of the filling of the time came (or: that which was filled up by time reached full term), forth from out of a mission (or: from out of the midst of [Himself]), God sent-off His Son, being Himself come to be born from out of a woman, being Himself come to be born under [the rules, authority and influence of] Law,


But now, Paul reminds them, the scene had changed: the "filling of the time came," and they were under it effect. The time which "reached full term" was the age of Israel and of the Law. And when this happened, "forth from out of (ek) a mission (or: from out of the midst of [Himself]), God sent-forth His Son." The verb that he uses here is the word from which we get our word Envoy, Emissary, Representative or "Apostle." It has the preposition ek prefixed to it. Got sent the Son both out of Himself, and out from God's mission which He had planned for the Son. Christ became the Envoy for God's mission.


Paul next refers to either the Incarnation or to the humanity of Jesus when he states that He was "born from out of a woman." However, this previews the scene of the allegory of the two women which he speaks of, below, and I think that we can see that Jesus was in fact born from both of them – first from the natural, enslaved Israel – through Mary, then from the Jerusalem which is above (vs. 26, below) by the Spirit of Life through His resurrection. In His flesh He put an end to the flesh-system and covenant; in His Spirit He brought into being the second birth of which he mentioned to Nicodemus (John 3:3-17).


Then he says that He was "born under [the rules, authority and influence of] Law," for as Jesus said in Matt. 15:25,

"I was not commissioned and sent off as an emissary (representative) – except into the midst of those sheep having been destroyed, the ones that belong to the house of Israel (or: unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel)."

And here, Paul's rhetoric returns to focus on his main target, the Law.


5. to the end that He could (or: would) buy out (ransom; redeem; reclaim [from slavery]) those under [the] Law – so that we could and would receive and take away into possession the placing in the condition of a son (or: the deposit of the Son; the setting in place which is the Son; the constituting as a son).


The purpose, "the end" in view, was to free the people that were "under [the slavery of the] Law." There are many references in Matt. which show that what Jesus did and what happened to Him were in order to fulfill what was written in the old covenant Scriptures. But Paul focuses on one specific aspect of the Messiah's work here. It had to do with a benefactor (often a relative) buying a slave out of his enslaved condition. So he uses the cultural picture of a slave being ransomed (redeemed) as an analogy for the "we" being released from the slavery of being "under Law" – and in this specific example it would mean those who were "under the Torah." It is fruitless to overanalyze the metaphor to try to figure out to whom or what the ransom money was paid. The point of the analogy is the freeing of a slave, and all through Paul's arguments up to this point, he is using this slavery metaphor as a negative picture for the Galatians to associate with the potential of Judaizing. Paul has reached back to Israel's story of their deliverance from Egypt. In Deut. 7:8b we read,

"... the Lord brought you folks out within a strong hand, and redeemed you [singular; i.e.,

as a people] from out of the midst of the house of slavery (or: bondage)..." – LXX.

Rather than God "paying Pharaoh" in ransoming Israel, He had Israel sent off with gifts from the Egyptians. But Moses described this as a "redemption; ransom" in the Deuteronomy text. The point was that they had been slaves, but now they were free. After quoting this same verse in Deuteronomy, Richard Rohr says,

"This quote, and its continual, constant pattern, is the foundation stone of our entire theology of grace! God did not choose or love the Israelites because they were good, but out of free and arbitrary choice. From the very beginning, Divine election is utterly free, gratuitous and indifferent to any criterion of worthiness or earnedness." (Things Hidden, Scripture as Spirituality, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2008, p 163).


And to what end is our emancipation? "So that we could and would receive and take away into possession the placing in the condition of a son (or: the deposit of the Son; the setting in place which is the Son; the constituting as a son)." "Paul's thought seems to be that God sent his Son to gain other sons. This involves a remarkable change of status from slavery to sonship" (Guthrie, ibid. p 114). If we consider the setting in vs. 1, above, this would mean to be put into the status of being a master of the household. This completes the analogy, but as a good rhetor, Paul expands and enhances this same analogy in the following verses – to drive home his point, once more.


6. Now, because we exist being (are presently and continuously) sons, God sends off His Son's Spirit (or: the Breath-effect, which is His Son) as an emissary into our hearts, repeatedly crying out (habitually calling out or exclaiming in an inarticulate cry; even: screaming, shrieking [verb also means: croak, as a bird]), "Abba (Aramaic: = Dad, or, Daddy!), O Father!"


Notice the present reality of the first dependent clause, "because we exist being sons." From this statement, Guthrie concludes that, "this appears to give the basis on which the Spirit is given. But realization of the full privileges of sonship can only come through the Spirit. Rather is Paul making clear that adoption and the gift of the Spirit are concomitant" (ibid. p 114; emphasis mine).


We see the corporate "we" of an inclusive body which includes Jew and Gentile in one community. This is not about just individuals, but about God's new economy and relationship with humanity at large. The metaphor of "son-placement" is now applied to their real-life situations and the changed existential condition. The new covenant is not a realm of childhood but of adulthood, because of being joined to Christ through God sending off "His Son's Spirit as an emissary into our hearts." This is what Lawrence Garcia referred to as phase two of the gospel (God's plan; see above). Paul was the prime example of the break from Judaism and the entrance into the new covenant. Note that it is the Son's Spirit that is "repeatedly crying out, 'Abba, O Father!'" We see a similar situation expressed in Rom. 8:26,

"Now similarly (or: likewise; in like manner), the Spirit also (or: even the Breath-effect; the Attitude) habitually takes hold together on the opposite side of a situation so as to assist in our weakness (or: joins with a helping hand in our lack of strength and infirmity), for we have not seen, and thus do not know nor are aware of, the thing which we should think, speak or do toward things going well and being good – to accord with what must be (or: can pray commensurately to what is necessary and down from what is binding), but rather the Spirit Himself (the Breath-effect Itself; this Attitude itself) from above constantly hits the target within us (or: falls in on our behalf; instead of us hits within; falls in for and over us; or: makes hyper-intercession) with unexpressed, unutterable or inexpressible groanings

(or: in sighs too deep for words; with wordless and inarticulate battle cries of deep emotion; in shouts of victory from the core of His Being)."


Jesus was sent off as an Emissary to Israel and those under the Law/Torah. Now His Spirit is sent off as an emissary into our hearts (cf Heb. 10:22; Acts 2:4). In John 14:16-17a, Jesus tells His disciples,

"I Myself will ask (make a request of) the Father, and He will give another Helper

(One called alongside to give assistance, relief, comfort and encouragement; Paraclete)

of like kind to you folks – to the end that He (or: It) can continue being [other MSS:

would be constantly remaining and dwelling] with you folks on into the midst of the

Age – the Spirit of the Truth (or: the spirit and breath of reality; the Breath-effect and

Attitude which is Reality)..."

Recall that Jesus said that He was the Truth in vs. 6 of this same chapter of John. Then in vs.18 of this same chapter He says, "I am repeatedly (or: habitually) and now progressively coming toward you people."


The result is the "I – Thou" experience and relationship which Martin Buber described in his book of this same title. It is the "shared knowing" of which Richard Rohr wrote (The Naked Now, Learning to See as the Mystics See, The Crossroad Publishing Co., 2009, p 16), and Absolute Reality. "Pure experience is non-dualistic" (ibid. p 50). It is the "awakening" to which the mystics point; it is the cry of the heart, "Abba – Oh Father!" It is the Presence of the Breath-effect in the core of our beings. And corporately, it is the establishment of true covenant community that is in fact Family.


Regarding "God sends off His Son's Spirit (or: the Breath-effect, which is His Son)," Guthrie comments, "[S]ince the same verb is used here as in vs. 4, the two actions may be regarded as complementary" (ibid. p 115).


7. So that, you are (you exist being) no longer a slave, but rather, a son, and since a son, also an heir (a possessor and an enjoyer of the distributed allotment) through God [other MSS: God's heir through Christ].


So Paul comes full circle from vs. 1, above. It is basically a restatement of vs. 5, above. Thus, we are no longer slaves to the Torah, or any other law – except,

"the principle and law of, and which is, the spirit and attitude of 'The Life within Christ Jesus' – or, the Law of Life’s spirit, joined with [the] Anointing of Jesus; or: the Spirit’s law of life within Christ Jesus; or: the Law [= Torah] from the Breath-effect, which is Life in union with [the] Anointed Jesus –" which "frees you away from the Law of the Sin (or: the principle of failure and the missing of the target; the code of behavior that produces error; the principle of deviation from the goal) and the Death (or: immediately set you [other MSS: me] at liberty from the law that deals with and has the character of sin and death)" – Rom. 8:2.

We have been inserted and immersed into this Life, with its Law of Love. And further, we are in a family relationship: a son AND an heir, through God – the Father who placed us as a son (it was the Divine initiative). And in relation to Jesus, we are His brothers, for He is,

"the Firstborn among, within the center of, and in union with many brothers (= a vast family of believers)!" – Rom. 8:29.


Now this personal, existential reality is a wonderful truth – but let us not lose track of the line of Paul's argument. He did not write this letter just to make theological or ontological assertions about our new existence as "sons of God" – true as they may be. He is making a covenantal argument, as the rest of this chapter will show. Being an "heir" and a "son" (no longer a minor) meant that they were released from the guardianship of the Law. Compare Rom. 8:14-17, where in vs. 17 we find the phrase, "Christ’s joint-heirs."


Notice that he has changed from the plural to the singular in this verse. It applies individually, but he is speaking to them as one body in corporate solidarity. They are a plant that has grown from the single Seed (Christ); they are "a son" – the body of Christ.


8. But on the other hand, at that time, in fact, having not perceived and thus not knowing God, you folks were, and performed as, slaves to (or: for) those [who], by nature, are not gods.


From a surface reading, this verse would be assumed to be directed only to the Gentiles, since he says that they had in the past existed "not knowing God." But recall how Jesus addressed the Pharisees:

"You folks have neither seen nor known Me, nor My Father. If you had seen and knew (or: were acquainted with) Me, you would also have seen and know (or: be acquainted with) My Father." (John 8:19)

The Jews has assimilated many pagan beliefs in their history of associations with Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Even at their very beginning as a nation, some asked Aaron to make "gods to go ahead of [them]" (Ex. 32:1).


Some assume that the last clause "those [who], by nature, are not gods" refers to the gods of mythology, or to the unseen "forces of the universe." Superstition has most likely always been a factor in human existence, until the revelation of the true God was given. But within the Roman Empire during this period, Emperor Worship was being promoted and, despite the Roman gospel of the so-called Pax Romana, everyone was in a kind of slavery to it and many did in fact worship Caesar as a god. However, verses 9-10, below, seem to suggest that Paul was referring to the Jewish myths and customs that had been woven into the fabric of their old-covenant paradigm. Bear in mind that even these Gentile believers would seem to be familiar with all of Paul's arguments from the history of Israel.


Also recall the incident in Matt. 12:22 where Jesus treated and cured the man that was blind and mute. In response to this we read,

24. Now upon hearing, the Pharisees said, "This person is not casting (or: throwing) out the demons except in union with Beelzebub [other MSS: Beelzebul; Beezeboul], the ruler (or: chief; originator) of the demons (Hellenistic concept and term: = animistic influences)."

[comment: Beelzebub, is the NT spelling for Baal-zebub, a Philistine deity (2 King 1:2). So here we have the Pharisees validating the existence of a pagan god! And yet, we are told in Ps. 95:5 that “all the gods of the peoples (= people groups) are mere idols (nobodies; things of naught).” demons.” But Isaiah says in 65:3 (LXX), “This is a people that … offer{s} sacrifices in gardens, and burn{s} incense on bricks to the demons – which things DO NOT EXIST!”]


9. Yet now, coming to know God by intimate experience and personal insight – or, rather, being known intimately by God – how are you folks progressively turning around again, upon the weak (feeble; infirm; diseased; impotent) and poor (beggarly) elementary and rudimentary principles to which (for which; in which) you people are presently wanting (and progressively intending) to again become, and perform as, slaves anew (or: back again)?


Nonetheless, the present situation is that the Galatians had "come to know God BY INTIMATE EXPERIENCE and personal insight" (gnosis). Then Paul corrects himself: the change came through God having intimate knowledge and experience of them (the initiative is always with God). This is love language – the knowing of a Husband in intimate sexual relation with His wife (e.g., Gen. 4:1, LXX; cf Ezk. 16 and Hos. 1-3).


So "how" – by what reason or logic? by what influence? by what idea or word? – are they "progressively turning around again"? The "weak and poor elementary and rudimentary principles" refer specifically to the Law to which the Judaizers are trying to get them to come under again. Such a move would be "to again become, and perform as, slaves" to the old religion of the Jews.


10. You are for yourselves and in yourselves continuously watching closely and observing days [e.g., sabbaths; days for fasting] and months (or: new moons) and seasons (or: appointed situations [e.g., feasts]) and [sacred] years!

11. I continue fearing for you, lest somehow I have, to the point of exhaustion, labored in vain (for no purpose) into you folks.


"One of the features of Jewish law was its observance of special times. In this passage the days are the Sabbaths of each week; the months are the new moons; the seasons are the great annual feasts like the Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles; the years are the Sabbatic years, that is every seventh. The failure of a religion which is dependent on special occasions is the almost inevitably it divides days into sacred and secular..." (Barclay, ibid. p 36-37, emphasis original). Paul sets before them some overt examples of what they have been doing that demonstrate that they are returning to the slavery of elementary and rudimentary principles. They have returned to being children – minors under the guardian. Along with what Barclay has pointed out, there were "days for fasting" and the days of having no unleavened bread in the house, which was a part of the celebration of Passover. "Months" indicates that their lives were tied to a religious calendar. These folks had inserted "Law-keeping" into the new covenant that had freed them from such things.


Paul's concern for those who had been circumcised and had taken up these other Jewish practices is expressed in 5:4, below,

"You people were discharged (made inactive, idle, useless, unproductive and without effect; or: voided, nullified, exempted) away from Christ, you who are now in Law trying to be rightwised (also = be included in the covenant) and are basing your fairness and relationships on the way it points out – you at once fell from out of the grace and favor!"

And if they persisted in this direction of living, then he would have "labored in vain and to no purpose into [them]." They would have retuned to the old covenant, the old creation, as if the Messiah had not yet come.


In vs. 11 he repeats the refrain of 2:2, above, showing that this is a continuation of the same theme of this letter – a warning that they should not blend the old covenant in with the new. Otherwise, all his efforts to bring freedom to them would have been in vain. They were turning back to the elements of the Torah.


12. Brothers (= Fellow believers), I beg of you, progressively become as I, for I also [was; am] as you folks. You did me no wrong (or: You folks treat me unfairly in nothing).


Paul now turns his rhetoric to an emotional appeal. He addresses them as family: brothers. He begs them to become (once again) as he now is: free; one having put away the childish things (1 Cor. 13:11b) of being under the escort of the Law. He was once there, and was as they are now becoming by observing the Torah. But in the spirit He has become an adult, in the new covenant arrangement of Christ – in the spirit, no longer in the flesh of the old.


"Paul makes not a theological but a personal appeal. He reminds them that for their sake he had become a Gentile; he had cut adrift from the traditions in which he had been brought up and became what they are [cf 1 Cor. 9:22]; and his appeal is that they should not seek to become Jews but might become like himself" (Barclay, ibid. p 38, brackets mine). Then he reminds them that they had done him no wrong – or, "treat [him] unfairly in nothing." So there should be no rift or discord between them nor cause for affront – they were on good terms – and there will be no repercussions concerning their Judaizing behaviors. But he begs them to simply turn from the practices of Judaism, and return to the freedom in Christ that he himself continues to enjoy.


13. Now you have seen and known that through weakness (impotence; sickness; infirmity; feebleness) of the flesh (or: = pertaining to [my] imperfect human nature; = whose source is the self which was affected by the System; = which is the deficient inner person) I formerly brought and announced the message of goodness, ease and well-being to you folks,


Paul recalls his former visit to them and recounts the situation, but has not given any details about this "weakness," or impotence, sickness, infirmity or feebleness "of the flesh," so speculation is fruitless, but vs. 14, below, indicates that it was an "ordeal" for them – and his flesh was the source. In the parenthetical expansion I have offered some potential paraphrases as extended meanings of the term "flesh." They all probably apply. Paul came as a man who was in solidarity with the condition that they were in when he first brought them the "message of goodness, ease and well-being." He had not put himself as though being in some way above them, but allowed whatever this weakness was to be seen by them. Considering the popularity of rhetoric as social entertainment, a person's skills at this were always under scrutiny. It is possible that here he is speaking about his "weakness or impotence" as a polished rhetor – his feebleness of presentation. He may simply be humbling himself before them, in this verse. His appeal is that he had become one of them, and he now reminds them of this: they should listen to him now, as before.


14. and yet you folks did not despise or treat as nothing your [other MSS: my] ordeal (or: trial; testing) – located within my flesh (= in my human weaknesses) – nor did you spit it out (= reject it as loathing; [note: perhaps referring to the practice of spitting to break the spell of “an evil eye” – a common pagan belief]), but to the contrary, you took me in your arms and welcomed me as God's agent (or: messenger) – as Jesus Christ!


He continues calling to their common history together. They had not rejected him then, so his appeal is that they would not reject him now, in the arguments that he is presenting. It is possible that reminding his listeners of all of this is simply a rhetorical device of this letter to win the listeners' sympathy for his present cause – this was common to forensic rhetoric, and his listeners would appreciate this. He reminds them that they did not formerly "spit out" what he brought to them – so likewise they should treat this letter in the same way.


He recalls the warm reception that they had given him and how they had perceived him as being "God's agent and messenger." He was "as Jesus Christ" coming to them, and they received him AS Jesus Christ. He was a living epistle to them; His life was a presentation of Christ to them. They had received him as a bearer of the Anointed Jesus – as actually being Jesus Christ coming to them in the flesh of Paul; he was to them an embodiment of the Spirit of Jesus.


Has Paul been identifying with the imagery of Isa. 53 in this passage? Is he once more embodying the message of "the wounded healer" (Henri Nouwen's phrase)? Is he imaging Christ-markers for them, so that they might see what their lives, as well, should look like?


15. Where, then, [is] your happiness? For, I continually bear witness to you folks (or: give testimony for you) that, if possible (if [you were] able), upon gouging (digging) out your eyes you would give [them] to me!


This question is instructive for us. There had come a change in the mood of the Galatian communities as the result of being told that they must live like Jews. This loss of the freedom that Paul had originally brought to them would naturally bring about some depression. By accepting what the Judaizers told them, the "ease, goodness and well-being" (the meaning of the term "gospel") had begun to slip away from them. It was not such good news, after all. So Paul rhetorically challenges them here. What had happened to their happiness?


He had continually observed how they responded to him when he first brought them the Message. They were so happy and thankful that they would have "if possible – i.e., if they were able to – given their eyes to him, after having gouged them out to do so. This hyperbole is simply saying that they were so thankful for the good news and the life that he had brought to them, that they would have given their most precious possession to him. In other words, "they would have done anything for him."


16. So then, by habitually being real and speaking Truth to you (constantly telling you the truth; progressively speaking reality to you), have I come to be your enemy?


Now he thrusts home his point of this section. In his constant speaking of this new reality that came with the Messiah, of the Truth of Jesus Christ, of their inclusion in the new covenant – has this made him to be their enemy? The question is a rhetorical device meant to evoke the emotional response from them, "No, Paul, of course not!"


Some interpreters think that this should be rendered as a statement, "... I have come to be your enemy!" Either makes the same rhetorical point: a shocking contrast of their former attitude toward him to their possible present stance (assumed only rhetorically, to make his point in regard to their present alignment with the Judaizers). There may be more facts behind this question/statement, since the Judaizers stood in enmity towards the freedom that Paul preached. But Paul does not state them here, if in fact they exist, so as not to bring blame upon them or to suggest that they had hurt him. He made sure, in vs. 12, above, that this was not the case.


17. They are constantly zealous over you folks (= These folks are constantly showing you great attention in order to win you over) – [though] not beautifully (or: ideally; in a fine way). But on the other hand they are constantly willing (intending; wanting) to shut you out (to exclude you), so that you folks might be habitually zealous over them (= trying to win their favor).


Having pricked their hearts toward him in vss. 15-16, he now turns his light on his opponents that are among them – the Judaizers. He affirms the zeal of these people over the Gentile believers, but exposes the deceptive, selfish motives of their show of great attention. Their "great attention" is in order to win them to their point of view and bring them under Synagogue control. So how they are behaving was not beautiful ("not as fine as it appears on the surface," Donald Guthrie, ibid. p 121) – it was self seeking. Brian Zahnd sheds insightful light on the character and quality of the Way of following Jesus,

"Thus the cruciform (the shape of a cross) is the eternal form that endows Christianity

with its mysterious beauty.... [It] is the posture of love and forgiveness where retaliation

is abandoned and outcomes are entrusted to the hands of God." (Beauty Will Save the

World, Charisma House, 2012, p 6)

The attempted psychological manipulation by the Judaizers was just the opposite of beauty and the way of Christ. It was old covenant exclusivism and prejudice which would "shut [them] out" if they did not comply with their religious requirements: circumcision and observance of Torah customs. This was just another tactic to try to make them really want to be a part of their supposed superior religious ceremonialism. The doctrines that they were attempting to teach the Galatian Gentiles were not fine, ideal or beautiful – they returned them to the bondage of slavery to the Law. Zahnd gives good advice about discerning the truth of a teaching,

"If a particular doctrine doesn't come across as truly beautiful, then we should hold it

suspect." (ibid. p 31)


18. Now [it is] always ideal (fine; beautiful) to be normally made zealous (or: to continue having a ferment of spirit) within a beautiful (fine; ideal) thing or situation, and not only within the situation for me to be present (or: at your side) and focused toward you folks.


There is nothing wrong with zeal or with "having a ferment of spirit," so long as it is "within a beautiful thing or situation" – and he is not just speaking about him being present with them and having all his attention "focused toward [them]." He is not hinting at the possibility of his taking up the strategies of the Judaizers. The "beautiful situation" is that of love, of laying down one's very soul for his or her friend, of giving to others, of accepting folks as they are – even in their broken and estranged conditions. Beauty is the cruciform life that is in union with Christ as He gives His life to others, through us.


19. My little children (born ones), with whom I am progressing, again, in childbirth labor (travail; labor pains), until Christ may be suddenly formed (= until the Anointing would be at some point birthed) within you folks.


"No one can fail to see the deep affection of the last words. My little children – diminutives in Latin and Greek always express deep affection" (Barclay, ibid. p 39). But he is also reminding them of their relationship to him – inferring that he had given birth to them when they first met. Paul then uses the language of being a pregnant woman in the process of giving birth. He is a part of the "the Jerusalem above" (vs. 26, below) that births people into covenant relationship in Christ. The metaphor cannot be taken too literally, for in the natural the "forming" of the child comes while it is still in the womb, not during the "childbirth labor." But here he is emphasizing the stress, pressure and pain involved with bring them to a place of stability in Christ – so that they will see the reality of the new creation and not be persuaded by the Judaizers to return to the old ways from which humanity has been delivered. This metaphor aptly paints a picture of the transition from the womb of the former arrangements to the new life and existence that has come into being. We see another mother/child picture drawn by Paul in 1 Thes. 2:7-8,

7. But rather, we were birthed babes (or: became infants; [other MSS: we were made to become gentle and kind ones]) within the midst of you folks, as whenever a nursing mother would constantly or repeatedly cuddle to impart warmth to her own children. 8. Thus, continuously being your affectionately "attached-ones" (ones having a like-flow [of nourishment from our Nursing Mother]), we were habitually delighted (thinking it good; well- pleased) to share or impart to you not only God's message of goodness and well-being [other MSS: the good news which is Christ], but rather even our own souls (= inner beings and lives; or: = selves), because you have been birthed (or: come to be) beloved ones to us (or: folks loved by us; or: = very dear to us, accepted by us and appreciated by us).

In this Thessalonian passage there are good witnesses for both readings in the first clause of vs. 7. The bold rendering makes Paul and his associates as infants; the alternate text makes them nurses to the Thessalonians. But the point is the close attachment and organic relationship that Paul engendered with the communities that he sought to establish – and his desire for them to be nourished and to grow in the Lord.


The goal of the new creation is to have Christ formed within all of humanity – and here, specifically within and among those Galatians. Again, phase two of the coming of the Messiah is the Anointing among all the nations. This was the new birth of which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus (John 3:7, "... it is necessary and binding for YOU FOLKS [i.e., the Jews] to be born back up again to a higher place."); to the Jew first, and now to the ethnic multitudes. Their taking up religious practices (e.g., the observance of "days," etc. – vs. 10, above) shows that "the Anointing" has not yet been birthed within them. Christ Jesus had not yet taken form as being their path of life among them.


Notice here Paul's use of the word "formed" (morphoo ). Paul said to the Corinthians,

"You see, I decided not to see or know anything among you folks, except Jesus

Christ – and this One being one having been crucified!" (1 Cor. 2:2)

He wanted to observe the cruciform life of Christ within the believers, and know only that.


20. Yet I was wanting (or: intending) to be present (at your side) and focused toward you right now, and to alter (change; make otherwise) my voice (or: tone; sound), because I continue without a way or path to bring myself in union with you folks (or: = I am now perplexed, uncertain, disturbed and at an impasse in your case).


Now he lets them know that he really does want to be with them – and is intending to do so, so as to have all his focus and his attention on them – but not for ulterior motives. He wanted to be present at the birth that he was referring to in the previous verse. Yet he was at his wits' end to do this, but could not find "find a way or path to bring [himself] in union with [them]." Whether he meant this literally, or in the sense of mindset, outlook or paradigm, we have no way of knowing. The extended meaning of a-poroumai would suggest the latter, as the parenthetical paraphrase indicates. I have rendered the prepositional phrase en humin both as "in union with you folks" and "in your case."


His desire to "alter or change [his] voice" (right then, in their current situation with these Judaizers), suggests that he may have wanted to elevate his voice in vehemence about their present situation. This also suggests that he might take a different tack and change his rhetorical strategy with them. It appeared to be necessary, because he could see that his former presentation left them vulnerable and left him without a path to reach the union that he desired to have with them. He was "perplexed, uncertain, disturbed and at an impasse" concerning them. These adjectives present the semantic range of a-poroumai, but my bold literal rendering best hits the mark of what he was saying to them. His present arguments in this letter represent his "change of voice" to them, endeavoring to attain this goal of renewed union with them.


21. Go on telling me, those of you constantly wanting or intending to be under Law (or: exist [controlled] by a legalistic custom or system, or [Torah]), do you not continue listening to and hearing the Law (or: paying attention to the [Torah])?


Here, in this first clause, we see plainly stated what this letter is opposing: "to be under Law (or, Torah)." It is not just a matter of circumcision; it is not about sabbath-keeping, or about morality codes, or about keeping certain Jewish feasts, or just about keeping the Ten Commandments. It is about being UNDER the rule and regulation of the Law brought through Moses.


And so, he rhetorically asks them if they are actually hearing or listening to what the Law says. "Are they really paying attention to the Torah?" This rhetorical question can be taken in more than one way:


1) The foregoing verses have set the stage, bringing his listeners to intimate receptivity, and now the next phase of his argument begins. Do they really want to be controlled by a legalistic custom or system of prejudice-creating divisions between races, genders, and social statuses of "clean and unclean," privileged and unprivileged, all under male-dominated hierarchies? All of that is what the Law teaches, and 5:3, below, tells us that Paul is referring to "the whole Law," which means "the entire Torah!"


2) He is asking them if they are, by implication of "hearing," "... obeying what the Law says for those under it to do and perform?" In other words, "Are you listening to all that it has to say and are you performing all of it?"


3) Paul is simply setting up what he is about to point out to them in the following allegorical interpretation that is taken FROM the Torah. So he is in effect saying: "Listen to what the Torah teaches us about the Law from the story of Sarah and Hagar."


So now Paul references a story from Israel's history as the foundation for what he will say about what these folks should do with the Law.


22. For it has been, and stands, written that, Abraham had two sons: one forth from out of the servant girl (the maid; the female slave), and one from out of the freewoman.


As he says in vs. 24, this argument will be in the form of an allegory, interpreting the incident in the story of Abraham which involved Sarah and Hagar, and their respective sons. He takes their social standing to be representative of what he has been contrasting between the slavery of the Law, and the freedom that comes with the advent of the Promise (Christ; the new humanity and new creation; the covenant of life in the Spirit). So he sets the stage: a son from a female slave (or, "servant girl" – Hagar) versus the son "from out of the freewoman (Sarah)."


"It is important to note that Paul does not at first mention them by name, because he wishes rather to draw attention to the categories to which they belonged" (Guthrie, ibid. p 123).


23. But, on the one hand, the one from out of the servant girl (the maid) had been born (generated and birthed) down from (in accord with; on the level of) flesh (= by human means); on the other hand, the one from out of the freewoman [was] through Promise (or: a promise)


The manner of birth becomes a key issue of his argument. Ishmael, Hagar's son, represents the "flesh," since his birth came by natural means; on the other hand Isaac's birth was an act of God – the result of the Promise. This is the crux of the issue that he is presenting, and it points to the miracle of the cross: God's saving act and the birthing of the Second Humanity. Paul never mentions Sarah by name, but instead emphasizes that she was a "freewoman," underlining the inherent freedom that comes with the Promise – set in stark relief against the dark background of the slavery inherent in the old covenant. The old covenant was NOT God's plan for humanity; the freedom that comes with His Promise (Christ) has always been His plan and purpose for the destiny of humanity.


24. – which things are habitually being allegorized (or: are normally being expressed in an allegory; are commonly spoken of as something other [than what the language means]) – for these women are (= represent) two settled arrangements (covenants; contracts; wills): one, on the one hand, from Mount Sinai, habitually (repeatedly; continuously) giving birth into slavery (or: bondage) – which is Hagar.


Here I rendered the present tense of the participle of the first clause as "habitually" and "normally." Paul is by this statement bringing in the authority of rabbinical precedence for allegorical interpretation of the OT stories. The "allegorical interpretation of Scriptures... was brought to a fine art, for example by Philo of Alexandria" (Harvey, ibid. p 612). So now Paul focuses on the women: they are "two settled arrangements (covenants; or – wills)."


Next he allegorizes Hagar, the female slave, as being Mount Sinai – which was an accepted figure for the Law and Moses' instructions. From this he posits that the Law (Hagar) is "habitually, repeatedly and continuously giving birth into slavery." The Law constantly produces slavery and bondage to and for those that are "under it." So it stands that if you are under the Law, you are not Abraham's seed in accord with the Promise. You will not enjoy the allotment of the Spirit nor of Grace. You will be void of faith and remain a slave to sin and death. There is no life in you, because the Law cannot produce life (3:21, above), and you are under a curse (3:10, above).


25. Now this Hagar is (= represents) Mount Sinai, within Arabia, and she continuously stands in the same line (or: keeps step in the same rank; marches in a column; walks or stands in a parallel row; or: is habitually rudimentary together; = corresponds to) with the present Jerusalem, for she continues in slavery (or: bondage) with her children.


Paul repeats the significance of Hagar representing Mount Sinai, thus once again placing the Law in the status of a slave, not a son, in God's metaphorical household. Next, he builds upon this by now equating the "present Jerusalem" as another figure of the Law, since it is the capital of natural Israel and the seat of the Law. Hagar/Mt. Sinai "continuously stands in the same line or rank with Sinai, and is habitually rudimentary together with [first century] Jerusalem [= the Law]." Thus, those living under the control and direction of the Jews in Jerusalem are also in slavery – along with her children, i.e., what she produces, just as what the slave girl Hagar produced was also in slavery. Paul is equating the historical Jerusalem and the Judaizers with Ishmael, a slave – not a son who will inherit the promises. A gloomy picture, indeed!


The clause, "continuously stands in the same line with" is the verb sustoicheo (from sun- and stoicheo ) and I have given different pictures of this word (used only here in the NT) in the parenthetical expansion. What is of interest is that it is in the same word family as stoicheia which we encountered in 4:3 & 9, above, as well as in Col. 2:8, 20 and Heb. 5:12. With this in mind, I gave the optional rendering, "is habitually rudimentary together with." The Law was the stoicheia, "the elementary things (or: fundamental principles; rudiments and rules)" that pertained to the education of one that was still a minor (4:1-2, above), and had not yet been placed as a son. This figures the old covenant of Judaism.


26. Yet, on the other hand, the Jerusalem above is (continues being) free, who is (or: which particular one continues being) our mother.


And now, against the dark background of vs. 25 he provides the glorious, heavenly contrast: "the Jerusalem above (= the new Jerusalem of Rev. 3:12 and 21:2, 9ff), who is free and is "our mother" – i.e., she produces sons of the Promise (Christ) who inherit the freedom of the new covenant. They are not slaves to the Law, or to any part of the old covenant. Paul was a citizen of this heavenly city, and had given birth to the Galatians as free sons of the new creation. We see her again in Heb. 12:22a,

"But to the contrary, you folks have approached so that you are now at Mount Zion – even in a city of a continuously living God; in 'Jerusalem upon heaven'..."


27. For it has been and stands written,

"Be made well-minded (Be given a competent way of thinking; Be made glad; Be turned to a good attitude), barren (or: sterile) woman, O woman consistently not bringing forth (not bearing; not giving birth; not producing)! Break forth (or: Shatter) in pieces and shout for joy (or: implore aloud), O woman consistently not having labor pains (birth pangs), because many [are] the children (the born-ones) of the desolate woman (of the abandoned woman of the desert), rather than of the woman continuously having (holding; possessing) the husband." [Isa. 54:1, LXX]


So now Paul reaches back to Israel's prophetic tradition to support the claims of his revelation, and quotes Isa. 54:1. "Isaiah... was in fact prophesying a new Jerusalem of the future (54:11-12)" – (Harvey, ibid. p 612). Thus the Galatians should be "well-minded and glad (be turned to a good attitude and a competent way of thinking)" for until the coming of the Messiah they, too, had been barren – producing no blessing to the nations. And here, again, Paul is classifying the present, earthly Jerusalem with Hagar (the desolate woman that was abandoned to the desert – Gen. 21:14) who has produced many children who are slaves. But the Galatians should "shout for joy" (even though having consistently had no labor pains) because as he says in vs. 28, they are "children of Promise."


28. Now we [other MSS: you folks], brothers (= fellow believers; = my family), down from (or: corresponding to; in the sphere of) Isaac, are (continuously exist being) children of Promise (or: ones-born of [the] Promise).


They (or, the inclusive "we") correspond to Isaac and truly have Abraham as their father, with the bride of Christ, the heavenly New Jerusalem, as their mother. They are folks produced by Christ's faith and His faithfulness. Guthrie point to this form of address, "brothers," and says that it "is particularly relevant here in view of the phrase 'children of promise'..." (ibid. p 126).


29. But nevertheless, just as then, the one being born down from (in accordance with; corresponding to; on the level of) flesh (= human efforts) was constantly pursuing and persecuting the one down from (in accordance with; corresponding to; in the sphere of) spirit (or: Breath-effect), so also now.


The incident to which he refers apparently must have been what is briefly described as Ishmael's "mocking" in Gen. 21:9, which prompted Sarah to speak to Abraham, recorded in vs. 10, and quoted here in vs. 30, below. Paul now turns to the current situation that both he and the Galatians are presently experiencing. The Jews and the Judaizing Christians are "pursuing and persecuting the one" – and note the contrast to the "many" of vs. 27, for the new creation was no longer two: us and them, but "one" – "down from spirit (or: Breath-effect)." Note that the contrast in vs. 23, above, was between "flesh" and "Promise," so Paul is affirming the connection of the Promise with the coming of the Spirit. The Spirit fulfilled the Promise. The "flesh" is seen here as a figure for the works-oriented Law of the old covenant, while the "spirit" was the new covenant marker – those who possessed the Spirit, and its fruit, were citizens of the Jerusalem "above." They live in and by the faith which is Christ, and from Whom faith is provided to us.


In 2 Cor. 3:6 we see that the letter (= the Torah) kills, but the spirit (= the new covenant and arrangement in Christ) brings life.


The ancient pattern was being fulfilled as the blessings of Abraham were coming to the nations and including them in this one new covenant.


30. Still, what does the Scripture yet say?

"Cast out (or: At once expel) the servant girl (the slave-girl; the maid) and her son, for by no means will the son of the servant girl (the slave-girl; the maid) be an heir (take possession of and enjoy the distributed allotment) with the son of the freewoman." [Gen. 21:10]


Once again Paul nails his arguments with this quote from Gen. 21:10. The Galatians were to cast out the Law, together with the old covenant and all legalism, Phariseeism, ceremonialism (cf John 4:21) and the divisive prejudice which are produced by them (their children). Here it is not people that are being cast out, but the Law and all of its effects. Instead of religion what the Messiah brought were covenant communities that are bound together with love and an attitude of mutual acceptance and fair treatment of others. It's as simple as that. It is Christ within and among us.


The last clause of this quote means that the Law will not exist alongside of the Spirit within the called-out groups. The Law and its rules and regulations are not to be a part of the new creation. Paul's rhetoric describes a summary separation and exclusion of Judaizing elements from the new covenant.


31. Wherefore, brothers (= fellow believers; family), we are not (we do not exist being) children of a slave-girl (a servant girl; a maid), but, to the contrary, of the freewoman.


In this verse he affirms that they did not come forth from keeping the Law, but from the faith that comprised the freewoman who is joined to Christ's faithfulness. It is the Vine that produces the branches, and then the fruit. They and we (in corporate solidarity: brothers; Family) are the fulfillment of Abraham's (= the Seed's faith) vehicle of blessing the ethnic multitudes.


Guthrie makes an astute observation: "[I]t should be noted that the Greek has 'a slave,' which draws more pointed attention to the qualitative aspect, i.e. slave children, although when the free woman is referred to an article is used..." (ibid. p 127).

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