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Lesson One: Galatians 1:1-9

  • Page ID
    125039
  • Instructions: Translate the Greek text with help from the reader notes. Complete the MYON (Make Your Own Note) and Discussion Questions if you desire.

    Gal 1:1Παῦλος ἀπόστολος, οὐκ ἀπ’ ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ δι’ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλὰ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν, 2 καὶ οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ πάντες ἀδελφοί, ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας· 3 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ⸂καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν⸃ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 4 τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ⸀ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ ⸂αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος⸃ πονηροῦ κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, 5 ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων· ἀμήν.

    6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι Χριστοῦ εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο· εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ⸀εὐαγγελίζηται ⸀ὑμῖν παρ’ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν, καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω, εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ’ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.  SBLGNT

    1:1

    [TN, SN] Paul’s letters begin with prescripts that identify the sender(s) and addressee(s). These prescripts are not complete sentences. The noun ἀπόστολος functions as a #nominative in simple apposition, where the apposite term (ἀπόστολος) gives further information about the referent noun (Παῦλος).

    [SN] Ἀπ᾽ and δι᾽: “Paul, an apostle not from mortals, nor through a mortal.” The preposition ἀπό carries here the sense of #source or origin, while διά probably communicates #agency. In the end, most scholars do not find the differences significant because Paul seems to be simply underscoring the idea that he was uniquely called and commissioned.

    [SN] Note how διἀ does double duty in διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς, such that διἀ is implied before θεοῦ πατρὸς.

    [TN] The conjunction ἀλλά is a very common adversative, but Paul will use it more than twenty times in Galatians to highlight contrast: “not this  . . .  but that.” This is his way of clarifying the truth of the gospel, to lead the Galatians away from another gospel and toward the true gospel.

    [GMN, SN] Here τοῦ ἐγείραντος (AAPMSG LF: ἐγείρω) functions as an #adjectival participle (head nouns: θεοῦ πατρὸς). Remember that θεοῦ and τοῦ follow the second-declension, and πατρὸς and ἐγείραντος are third-declension forms (all MSG).

    [LN, GMN] The prepositional phrase ἐκ νεκρῶν is often translated as “from the dead” and could be misunderstood in English to mean that Jesus was raised from his own death. Note the plural here, νεκρῶν (MPG LF: νεκρός), is treated as a #substantival adjective. This leads to a literal (if awkward) translation, “who raised him from the corpses.”

    1:2

    [TN] Verses 1−2 comprise the prescript of the letter. In ancient letters, the prescripts tend to be very short, such as “Hermogenes to Ischyras his brother, greeting.” Paul’s prescripts are often lengthy (see Rom 1:1−7); he tends to preview key themes and ideas of the letter in the prescript.

    [SN, GMN] The adjective πᾶς does not always follow expected #attributive adjectival patterns. In this case, it does function attributively and means “all the brothers with me.” Note that πάντες is a third-declension form, and ἀδελφοί is second-declension, but they agree in GNC (MPN).

    [GMN] Note here that Γαλατίας is FSG. Remember that the first-declension FSG ending is commonly -ῆς, but when an ε, ι, or ρ precedes it, you will see -ας.

    1:3

    [SN] Χάρις and εἰρήνη are both #nominative absolute.

    [SN] Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ are both MSG, in #apposite relationship with κυρίου.

    1:4

    [SN, GMN] The participle δόντος (AAPMSG LF: δίδωμι) is #attributive, describing the noun in the previous clause (Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). Note the absence of the present tense μι-verb reduplication feature, indicating an aorist participle.

    [SN] Note ὅπως ἐξέληται explains the #purpose or reason for Christ giving himself for their sins (τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν).

    [GMN] For ἐξέληται (AMS3S LF: ἐξαιρέω), observe the stem change in the aorist middle subjunctive (αιρ → ελ).

    [SN] The participle τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος (RAPMSG LF: ἐνίστημι) is #attributive modifying τοῦ αἰῶνος . . . πονηροῦ.

    1:5

    [TN] Paul here uses a traditional phrase to close his doxology and salutation (cf. Rom 16:27, 2 Tim 4:18, 1 Pt 4:11, Heb 13:21, LXX Psalm 84:5, Dan 7:18). It is a verbless construction with an implied imperative (“to whom be the glory”) or declarative (“to whom is the glory”) sense.

    [SN] The relative pronoun (MSD) refers back to τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν.

    [SN]Εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων is an idiom denoting all future time (“forever and ever”; lit. “to the ages of ages”).

    1:6

    [LN] This is one of the two times θαυμάζω is used by Paul (cf. 2 Thess 1:10).

    [LN] Ταχέως appears fifteen times in the NT, seven times in Paul. This adverb denotes action done quickly, while the usage here implies action done without foresight.

    [LN] Μετατίθεσθε (PMI2P LF: μετατίθημι) occurs five times in the NT, including once in Paul. The word conveys the idea of a change in place or orientation.

    [SN] Τοῦ καλέσαντος (AAPMSG LF: καλέω) is a #substantival participle. Paul does not state explicitly who is doing the calling (God? Christ?).

    [SN]νχάριτι probably communicates #means via the preposition ἐν (“by [means of] grace”).

    [SN] The prepositional phrase εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον is adverbial, modifying μετατίθεσθε; εἰς here denotes #purpose or #goal.

    [LN] Εὐαγγέλιον occurs seventy-seven times in the NT, including a remarkable sixty times in the Pauline corpus (Romans through Philemon; seven times in Galatians).

    [SN] The relative pronoun (NSN) refers back to εὐαγγέλιον in 1:6.

    [LN] Εἰ μή is an idiom best translated here as “except.”

    [SN, TN] The adjective ἄλλο refers back to εὐαγγέλιον (v. 6) and means “another one/gospel/message.” Note the use of ἄλλο here against ἕτερον in v. 6: whereas ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον highlights the difference between Paul’s gospel and the one to which the Galatians are turning, οὐκ . . . ἄλλο negates any similarity between the two. In other words, the “different gospel” is “not another” gospel at all.

    [SN]Ταράσσοντες (PAPMPN LF: ταράσσω) and θέλοντες (PAPMPN LF: θέλω) are #substantival participles. Note that the article οἱ is doing double duty and should be applied to both participles.

    [SN, TN] Τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ: The genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ is modifying τὸ εὐαγγέλιον as a #genitive of content (“the good news about Christ”), #apposition (“the good news, who is/namely Christ”), or possibly #source (“the good news from Christ”). Whatever the syntactical function, in using the phrase τὸ ευἀγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ Paul is drawing a stark contrast between the gospel he preaches and that ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο (1:6−7) to which the Galatian believers are in danger of turning.

    MYON[GMN] Μεταστρέψαι (LF: μεταστρέφω): Parse this word, and explain the morphological change from φ to ψ.

    1:8

    [SN] The conjunction ἀλλὰ is #adversative, paired with an adverbial καί (“even”) to create an emphatic expression.

    [SN] This is a rare instance where ἡμεῖς is not followed by a first-person plural verb. Ἡμεῖς could refer to Paul and the brothers with him (cf. 1:2) unless he is using the first-person plural to refer to himself.

    [GMN]Εὐαγγελίζηται is PMS3S (LF: εὐαγγελίζω).

    [SN] The preposition παρά accompanied by the accusative relative pronoun conveys the idea of replacement: a gospel otherthan (παρ᾽ ὃ) what we preached to you.

    [GMN] The true stem εὐαγγελίζω ends with a #dental, which drops out in order to accommodate the σ of the aorist tense formative -σα, resulting in εὐηγγελισάμεθα (AMI1P LF: εὐαγγελίζω).

    [GMN]Ἔστω is PM3S (LF: εἰμί).

    1:9

    [SN] As in the previous verse, the plural subject of προειρήκαμεν (RAI1P LF: προλέγω) could refer to Paul and the brothers with him (cf. 1:2), unless he is using the first-person plural to refer to himself.

    Discussion Questions (1:1−9)

    [1:3] This verse contains no verb and can be tricky to translate. What are some options for translating this verbless clause?

    [1:6] The antecedent of τοῦ καλέσαντος is ambiguous and could refer to God, Christ, or even Paul. How do these choices affect our reading of the letter?

    Word Study: Εὐαγγέλιον (“gospel/good news”)

    Introduction

    In Galatians, εὐαγγέλιον (“good news”) occurs three times in chapter one, and εὐαγγελίζω (“to bear good news”) occurs a total of six times. The background for their meaning can be traced to some key OT passages as well as to the political context of Paul’s day.

    Background

    Εὐαγγελίζω is used twice in LXX Isa 40:9, where the prophet teaches that the God of Israel is wholly sovereign and faithful. The word is also used twice in LXX Isa 52:7, there emphasizing that God will vindicate God’s people who are mocked and disgraced. Finally, it appears again in LXX Isa 61:1 to describe God working through a Spirit-empowered individual who will bring about justice and deliverance for God’s suffering people, along with judgment toward those responsible for the people’s distress. “Good news” language in the LXX consistently refers to the kingly reign of YHWH (cf. Ps 40:9; 68:11; 96:2; Isa 41:27; 52:7).

    In the political rhetoric of Paul’s day, εὐαγγέλιον was used to proclaim the “good news” of salvation, with the emperor himself referred to as “lord” and “savior.” Scholars debate the degree to which Paul consciously used words like εὐαγγέλιον and κύριος with a view toward subverting particular associations in politics and Greco-Roman culture.

    In Jesus’ proclamations of “good news” in Matthew and Luke, we find that they often employ the synonymous verb κηρύσσω in place of εὐαγγελίζω. Paul also employs κηρύσσω occasionally as a synonym for εὐαγγελίζω (see 1 Cor 15:1−14). Both of these words in Paul have to do with the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the good news about Christ.

    Εὐαγγέλιον/Εὐαγγελίζω in Paul’s Letters

    Paul sees his calling by God in terms of personal revelation (Gal 1:12), which is perhaps a reason why he can refer to the gospel as both Christ’s (Gal 1:7)[1] and his own (Rom 2:16). If Paul’s gospel is to be understood, it must be acknowledged that it is both heavily rooted in Jewish thought and at the same time highly innovative−so much so in certain ways that many of his fellow Jews viewed him as apostate. However, the fact that Paul never renounced his Jewishness or his heritage cannot be overstressed.

    Paul’s understanding of the gospel carries strong apocalyptic undertones, for instance as a divine rescue operation from the “present evil age” (Gal 1:4). Though the final consummation of God’s redemptive work has not yet occurred, the people of God experience the hope of new creation in the present. The gospel has to do with Israel’s past, the present work of God through the cross of Christ and the gift of the Spirit, and the future victory of God, which has broken into time and reality.

    Paul felt that he had been entrusted with the proclamation of the gospel among Gentiles (1 Cor 9:17) and would “endure anything so as not to place an obstacle before the gospel of Christ” (9:12).

    Galatians and Εὐαγγέλιον/Εὐαγγελίζω

    In all of Paul’s letters, there is a clear concern for how believers relate to one another, and Galatians is no exception. Paul, a Jew, was not opposed to circumcision per se, but rather he felt that the Galatians were giving in to a practice that would lead to bondage. We see then that the gospel has to do with deliverance and freedom from bondage. Such freedom was first experienced by the Galatians when the gospel was made manifest in the power of the Holy Spirit (see Gal 3:2–5).

    Paul sums up a central tenet of his gospel in 2:6: “God shows no favoritism.” Paul wanted the Galatians to follow in the footsteps of their God and to remain in line with the ethical demands of the gospel (2:14). God, through Christ, has torn down the walls that keep humans at odds with one another, and Paul was alarmed at the idea that the Galatians were reinforcing barriers and divisions.

    Εὐαγγελίζω occurs first in 1:8: “Even if we or an angel from heaven weretoproclaim [εὐαγγελίζηται] to you other than what we have proclaimed [εὐηγγελισάμεθα] to you, let him be accursed.” Here the reader is introduced, in strong language, to Paul’s willingness to defend the gospel entrusted to him. When the Galatians first responded to the proclamation of the gospel, their status “in Christ” became the great equalizer (Gal 3:28), but now they were gravitating toward what they were before: people divided by distinctions. Paul wrote Galatians to call this into question and to urge them to walk in step with the gospel of Christ and with the Spirit. (Paul C. Moldovan)