Galatians

6:11-18

6. The Postscript

Being a new creation, 6:11-18

Argument

Paul now concludes his letter to the Galatian churches by writing a final exhortation in his own hand - do not "be deceived and hoodwinked by the Judaizers", Hunter.

 
Issues

i] The function of Paul's concluding words: As we all know, a good composition states the thesis, argues the thesis and finally, restates / summarizes the thesis. Although Betz goes overboard with his rhetorical criticism, he, with most other commentators, sees this passage as a summation of Paul's central argument, so Dumbrell, Longenecker, Neil, Guthrie ("a summarizing appeal") Lightfoot ("summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse eager disjointed sentences"). Bruce and Ridderbos see the passage more in the terms of concluding comments, while Fung moves to the other extreme arguing that Paul carries his polemic against the judaizers a stage further in this passage. The passage certainly does contain some pointed concluding comments that encapsulate Paul's argument, although probably not "interpretive clues to the understanding" of the letter, Betz.

 

ii] Paul's summary argument: Paul begins the summation of his argument / thesis by restating his condemnation of "those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh." Central to this epistle has been a critique of the members of the circumcision party, the Judaizers - nomistic Christians who promote obedience to the Torah to restrain sin and shape holiness in order to enable a believer to move forward in the Christian life and so appropriate the fullness of new life in Christ. Paul suggests that their motives in promoting obedience to the law are anything but pure. Paul then posits a choice between two grounds for Christian boasting. These are encapsulated in the images of circumcision and the cross.

First, Paul discounts submission to the law of Moses (the Torah), which submission is outwardly expressed in circumcision. It has been Paul's contention that "works of the law" (obedience to the law of Moses) is not the means by which a believer appropriates the promised Abrahamic blessings. The law has but two functions: it serves to make sin more sinful, thus encouraging a search for a righteousness that is apart from "works of the law", and it serves to guide those who are righteous by faith. Those who want to make a "good showing" as a believer, by placing themselves again under the law, serve only to promote sin, enact the law's curse, and so undermine their justification.

Second, Paul uplifts the cross, for, as he has argued, it is the only way to stand approved before God, both in being right before God, and in living a life that images the standing that we already possess before God, by grace through faith. The only ground of boasting for a believer is the righteousness which is ours in Christ through his cross and empty tomb.

 

iii] The reader will understand that the identification of the judaizers and their particular understanding of the role of the law, how that law applies to a believer and in what sense a believer is set right before God, is a matter of intense debate these days. See The New Perspective on Paul

 
Text - 6:11

Being a new creation, v11-18: i] The summation of Paul's argument, v11-15.

idete (eidon) imp. "See" - look. Used for emphasis. "Take note."

phlikoiV dat. pro. "what large" - how big, great [letters, writing]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means; "you can see by means of these large letters." The position is emphatic; note separation from noun "letters". As is typical of NT. Greek an interrogative pronoun is used in an exclamation; note the relative variant. Paul's writing hand is obviously different to that of his scribe, probably not as neat and fine. It is possible that the increased size of the writing is down to emphasis, similar to our use of capitals, although a personal subscription at the end of the letter is more likely. Crysostom suggests that "clumsy" is intended, rather than "large". Another possibility is to read "large" as "long", with "letter of the alphabet" taken as "letter, epistle" (although Paul would have used a different word), "see what a long letter I have written to you", Bligh. "You can see by this rough writing that I now pen these words to you by my own hand"

egraya (grafw) aor. "I write" - An epistolary aorist where the writer adopts the time perspective of the reader.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of interest, advantage; "for you."

th/ em/ ceiri dat. "with my own hand" - The dative is instrumental, expressing means; "with/by my own hand."

 
v12

oJsoi "those" - as many as. These ones who want to make a good showing are obviously the same group as the ones being circumcised, v13.

euposwphsai (euposwpew) aor. inf. "[want] to make a good impression / [want] to impress people" - to make a good showing. Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "will [to make a good showing, show off and boast]." Paul seeks to expose the attitudes of the Judaizers. The real reason, says Paul, for their religious fervor, is not religious at all. They are simply afraid of the opposition of their fellow Jews.

en sarki (sarx sarkoV) "outwardly" - in the flesh / by means of the flesh. The prepositional phrase is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner in which "will to make a good impression" is realized, or, as TNIV, instrumental, means. It is possible that Paul is using "flesh" in an ethical sense, as he sometimes does, in which case it means the innate power that opposes and resists God, "the old man", "the body of sin", as opposed to "Spirit", the indwelling compelling of the Spirit of Christ that renews and aligns us to God. Yet, it is more likely that Paul is using "flesh" here of the mortal physical self, as opposed to "spiritual / inward", so "outwardly", NIV; "externally", Bruce; "they want to make a pleasing front to the world", Phillips.

anagkazousin (anagkazw) pres. "trying to compel [you]" - compel, force [you]. The present tense is usually read here as conative, action that is attempted, so NIV. "Those people are telling you to get circumcised", CEV.

peritemnesqai (peritemnw) pres. pas. inf. "to be circumcised" - The infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they try to compel / demand.

monon "the only reason they do this is" - only. Elliptical, as NIV. "Reason they do this is", has been supplied. "Only [their object in doing so is] that they may not be persecuted", Lightfoot.

iJna + subj. "to [avoid being persecuted]" - that [they may not be persecuted]. This construction forms an final adverbial clause expressing purpose; "in order that ..." Maintaining Jewish exclusivism by demanding that Christian converts submit to the Torah would obviously endear Jewish Christians to their unconverted Jewish friends, rather than antagonize them, and, it could be argued, would serves as an excellent method of building bridges to unconverted Jews!!!!! Is this Paul's critique of Church Growth methodology????

tw/ staurw/ (oV) dat. "for the cross [of Christ]" - the cross. The position in the Gk. is emphatic since the phrase is placed between hina and its negation. Dative of interest, often classified as cause, "because of (the offence of) the cross of Christ", Wallace 167. The whole justification package is tied up with the cross.

 
v13

gar "-" for. Possibly expressing cause/reason, following on from "in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ", although the logic is not obvious, "for those who are circumcised ....", Longenecker. Probably best treated as a connective in the argument, so "they want you to obey the law, but even they themselves are unable to obey it", NIV, NRSV, REB, NJB, etc.

oiJ peritemnomenoi (peritemnw) pres. pas. part. "those who are circumcised" - the ones being circumcised. Participle serves as a substantive, most likely passive, but possibly middle. If middle, it refers to the Gentiles who receive circumcision, but most likely it is referring to those who promote it, "those who want to make a good show", v12. Not those who are doing the circumcising, but those who belong to it; "not even the members of the circumcision party."

fulassousin (fulassw) pres. "obey [the law]" - keep, observe [law]. Some commentators suggest that Paul is seeking to expose the double standards of the Judaizers, they encourage others to keep the law, but are not diligent themselves. This view certainly fits with the context. Yet, it is more likely that Paul is restating his central theses in this letter. The Judaizers promote law obedience as a means of restraining sin and thus maintaining/advancing their standing before God, yet a person's standing before God is by grace through faith. The law was not designed for such a purpose: first of all, it was designed to expose sin and thus promote a search for righteousness apart from law obedience, and second, it was designed as a guide to the righteous by faith. For a believer to return to the law to promote their standing before God can only serve to place themselves again under the curse of the law, under judgment, for no person can obey the law perfectly, and that includes the members of the circumcision party.

alla "yet" - but. Strong adversative; "but they want to get you circumcised", Berkeley.

iJna + subj. "that" - Forming a purpose clause; "in order that / so that ..."

kauchswntai (kaucaomai) aor. subj. "they may boast" - boast, glory, pride oneself. The real motive behind the evangelistic zeal of the Judaizers, says Paul, is to bolster up their pride in having brought Gentiles under the Law of Moses. They seek the praise of their fellow Jewish believers, not the salvation of the Gentiles.

en + dat. "in [your]" - Here expressing reference/respect; "they want to boast with respect to the outward mark of circumcision which they have been able to persuade you to adopt."

sarki (x koV) dat."flesh" - As above, their outward physical self, with particular reference to circumcision, ie. the outward marks of Jewishness, "they want to boast about your submission to the Law of Moses."

 
v14

de "-" - but, and. Here obviously serving as an adversative, we can't boast in circumcision, but can in the cross.

emoi dat. pro. "I" - to me. Dative of interest, advantage; "far be it for me to boast." The position of "to/for me" is emphatic; "when it comes to my interests, may I never boast ...."

mh genoito (ginomai) aor. opt. "May I never" - may it not be. The optative mood, virtually a weakened subjunctive, is used by Paul, with a negation, to express a strongly negated desire, often as an exclamation, and here integrated into the sentence; "God forbid that I should boast", Barclay.

kaucasqai (kaucaomai) pres. inf. "boast" - to boast. Variant has the accusative + infinitive construction me kaucasqai. As it stands, the infinitive forms an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what is not wished; "but for me, perish the thought that I should boast", Berkeley. Here the word is used positively, not negatively as in v13. Present tense implies ongoing boasting, or better, "confidence". The Judaizers boast that they keep the regulations of the law, (although, as Paul has shown, they may keep the outward regulations, but they do not keep the substance of the moral law). Paul boasts of only one thing, namely, the cross of Christ. Paul could well boast of his "righteousness" under the law, even of his missionary service, but his confidence rests on what Christ has done for him, not on what he has done. He trusts wholly in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

ei mh + ind. (var.) "except" - Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the condition is assumed to be true; "except, as is the case, in the cross of our Lord Jesus for me , then may it be that I never boast." Noted as a rather messy sentence; "God forbid that I should boast about anything or anybody except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ", Phillips.

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means.

ou| pro. "which" - The pronoun may be either masculine or neuter, so it is through "the cross" or through "Christ", "through whom", Ellicott? Probably the cross, although it doesn't actually matter because the cross but represents the person and work of Christ.

estaurwtai (staurow) perf. pas. "[the world] has been crucified" - The perfect tense indicating a past action with ongoing consequences. In the cross the world has been crucified to Paul. The world may be "the order of material creation and everything under its sway", Guthrie, but most commentators, following Burton, suggest that it is not the physical, nor sinful world, but all the glories and vanities which undermine right-standing with God, and in which we put our trust. For the Judaizers, the vanity on which they trust involves keeping the regulations of the law so as to maintain and/or progress divine approval. Paul says that he is dead "to the world", it is "crucified to me."

emoi dat. pro. "to me" - Dative of reference/respect, "through the cross the world is a dead thing with respect to me"; "The world is dead as far as I am concerned", CEV.

kosmw/ (oV) "[and I] to the world" - Dative of reference/respect. As well as being able to boast of "the total ongoing sufficiency of the cross of Christ", Paul happily declares that "by the death of Christ in which he was included, he had died to the old era which, with its values, stand done to death", Dumbrell. The law has no claim over him when it comes to the business of standing approved before God. "I am dead as far as the world is concerned", CEV.

 
v15

gar "-" - for. Expressing cause/reason; "boasting about the cross is the way to go, "because there is nothing to boast about in circumcision or uncircumcision."

ti estin "means anything" - anything is. Possibly it is the "boast" that is nothing. Paul goes on to stress that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any value when it comes to our relationship with God. "Circumcision is nothing (to boast about), nor is uncircumcision", Bligh.

alla "what counts is" - but. Adversative; "but rather, what we have to boast about is a new creation."

kainh ktisiV "[what counts is] a new creation" - [but] a new creation / creature. Chilton suggests "a new humanity", "God has set aside the polarity of Jew and Gentile in favour of an altogether new humanity." Best either, "new creation", or "new creature." If new creature, it may refer to "both God's act of new-creating us and our condition of being new-created", Bligh (one would think either the divine act, or the product, here probably the product). So, Bligh suggests that "new creature" = "in newness of the Spirit", cf. Rom.7:6. Lightfoot opts for "new creature", so also: "new man", Neil; "the inward work of the Spirit to regenerate and sanctify us", Stott; "the regenerating work of God in the individual soul", Cole; "men and women made new by the transforming power of the Spirit", Hunter; "the new life in the Holy Spirit", Ridderbos. Possibly elliptical, "what matters is being a new creature" Certainly these interpretations fit the use of the phrase in 2Cor.5:7. The other possibility, "new creation", certainly has a far better Old Testament precedence and is the translation chosen by Betz, Bruce, Longenecker; "the reality of God's kingdom which is ushered in by God's saving act in the cross of Christ", Fung; "the totality of the renewal effected by Christ", Guthrie; "a new order of existence", Tannehill. Barrett supports this view by arguing that v15 is dealing with "an objective, metaphysical view" of salvation, having moved from a "subjective, existential view of salvation" in v14. So, possibly referring to a new order of things, the realization, in Christ, of the promises made to Abraham of an eternal kingdom, the kingdom of God. The sample sermon opts for "new creation", although its focus is the new creature in Christ. "What matters is the reality of (pos. our membership in) God's Kingdom (which reality is ours 'in Christ')", Fung.

 
v16

ii] Final blessings and warning, v16-18. The NIV translation is followed, but it is possible that Paul intends the verse to read "Peace to all who follow this rule and mercy even to the Israel of God."

eirhnh .... kai eleoV "peace and mercy" - peace [upon them] and mercy [even upon the Israel of God]. Interestingly, Paul usually has "mercy and peace", given that peace is the consequence of mercy. Presumably this blessing is upon all believers (those who follow the rule), and that includes "the Israel of God", but note above.

epi + acc. "to" - upon. Spacial, although the accusative can express motion, as of the blessing of peace coming down from heaven upon...

oJsoi "all who" - all those who. An absolute inclusive referring to all believers.

stoichsousin (stoicew) fut. "follow" - will keep in line, agree with. "Live in accordance with", Longenecker.

tw/ kanoni (wn onoV) dat. "[this] rule" - this cane, reed .... measuring rod, standard. Dative of direct object after the verb stoicew, "keep in line with." Follow "this principle", that is, the one stated in v15, both Gentile Christians ("all") and Jewish Christians ("the Israel of God").

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the Israel] of God" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "God's true people", CEV. Possibly Jews in general (as note above), less likely Gentiles, but probably either all believers as the new Israel, the inheritors of the promises to Abraham (in this case the kai, "even", means "that is [to the Israel of God]"), or serving as Paul's term for believing Jews ("even", in the sense of "and that includes Jewish believers"), possibly specifically the Judaizers. "To all God's people", NCV.

 
v17

Serving as a final personal comment by Paul, warning off the Judaizers and reminding them of his apostolic authority, v17.

tou loipou adv. gen. "finally / from now on" - from the rest. This genitive articular adverb takes an ablative sense, source/origin, "from", possibly logical, as NIV, but better temporal as TNIV; "the time that remains" = "in future", Barclay.

parecetw (parecw) pres. imp. "let [no one] cause [me trouble]" - The present tense indicating durative (ongoing) action, "continue to cause me trouble." Elsewhere Paul calls these troubles "the care of all the churches." This pain and suffering comes on him as a servant of Christ, and in a sense adds to the other "marks" he has borne for Jesus. In this suffering Christ himself is identified and thus, this pain is being inflicted indirectly onto Christ. The church had therefore, better change its ways.

kopouV (oV) "trouble" - work, trouble. Here obviously the sense is "trouble / difficulty."

gar "for" - Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul should not be troubled by mhdeiV, "no one", "because of my standing as an apostle."

ta stigmata (a atoV) "the marks" - A branding such as a tattoo of ownership for a slave. Possibly the scars on Paul's body, marks of his suffering for Christ; "the scars I bear on my body brand me as the slave of Christ", Barclay. Still, a figurative sense may be implied as of ownership to Christ, a spiritual mark, a religious branding, as opposed to the mark of the Judaizers, namely, circumcision. Paul bears the religious brand of apostle and the Judaizers need to take note of it; "I bear in my body the brandmarks of Jesus' ownership", Berkeley.

tou Ihsou gen. "of Jesus" - The genitive is surely adjectival, attributive, limiting "marks / scars", Jesus type scars, scars which indicate Paul's apostolic authority exercised under Jesus' authority; "scars that prove I belong to Christ Jesus", CEV / "the scars I bear on my body [that] brand me as the slave of Christ", Barclay.

 
v18

A gracious blessing, v18.

hJ cariV "the grace" - Paul begins and ends with God's unmerited favour, here "may God's favor in and through the person and work of Christ be with us."

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of [our] Lord [Jesus Christ]" - The "grace" is most likely active so the genitive my be classified as subjective, or ablative, source/origin; "the grace that pours out from our Lord Jesus Christ." "I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you", CEV.

meta + gen. "be with" - with. Expressing association, accompaniment; "in company with."

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) "[your] spirit" - Obviously not the Holy Spirit, but "spirit" as of the real self; "may what our Lord gives freely be deeply and personally yours", Peterson.

 

Galatians Introduction.

 

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