[B-Greek] Gal 3:3 -- Question or statement?

Mark Goodacre goodacre at gmail.com
Wed Aug 25 08:33:54 EDT 2010

On 25 August 2010 03:02, Iver Larsen <iver_larsen at sil.org> wrote:

> Already in 3:1 Paul said that the Galatians were ANOHTOI, but he quickly
> mitigates it by accusing not so much the Galatians as those who have
> "bewitched" them. Paul treats the Galatians like his "children" with
> affection but also with frustration (4:19-20). But he is hard and
> uncompromising against those who want to drag the Galatians back into
> slavery to Jewish laws and especially circumcision as a requirement to
> belong to God's people (e.g. 5:12).

I am less sure about the "affection".  The image in 4.19 is of
returning to labour, with all the pain, fear and uncertainty that that
brought.  Are they going to be still-born?  Will they be born healthy?
Will this whole affair kill him?  I think it's clear from 4.20 sees it
as a negative image -- he wants to change his tone.

> I might venture: Are you so foolish (that) after having started (so well)
> with (the help of) the Spirit, you now want to reach the finishing line by
> way of your own human efforts?

I am not too keen on the "human efforts" translation here.  It is not
just that it could be taken to imply a kind of old perspective "God's
grace vs. human effort" but also that it loses the literal sense of
SARX.  They are finishing with literal flesh, the flesh of
circumcision.  It's a good guess that the Galatians imagined that the
flesh of circumcision could "seal" or complete their righteousness.
Paul appears to be arguing against that kind of view elsewhere in the
epistle by suggesting that far from sealing the deal, circumcision
marks a new, regressive beginning that requires the keeping of the
whole Law (5.3, 6.13 etc.).


Mark Goodacre
Duke University
Department of Religion
Gray Building / Box 90964
Durham, NC 27708-0964    USA
Phone: 919-660-3503        Fax: 919-660-3530


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